Work In Progress

Terry has posted an excerpt from his upcoming book on Balanchine. It’s from Chapter Five, which is about the choreographer’s fourth wife, Tanacquil Le Clercq, whom he met while still married to Maria Tallchief.

But Balanchine’s eye had already started to wander as had Tallchief’s. They agreed to separate after the London season (their marriage was subsequently annulled), and no sooner did NYCB return to Manhattan than Balanchine began seeing Le Clercq in public. “I just love you to talk to, to go around with, play games, laugh like hell, etc.,” she told Robbins in a letter. “However, I’m in love with George. Maybe it’s a case of he got here first.” Devastated by what he saw as her betrayal, Robbins made The Cage, a chillingly angry portrait of a tribe of insect-women who kill the men with whom they mate. And though Tallchief remained the prima ballerina of New York City ballet for a few years more, it was Le Clercq for whom Balanchine made La Valse (1951, music by Ravel), a darkly unsettling vignette about a beautiful young girl who encounters a black-clad man at a party. He offers her a pair of black gloves into which the girl heedlessly plunges her hands. Then they waltz together with mad abandon until she collapses and dies.

And you thought your life was like a soap opera.