From the Archives: Tanny Le Clercq

Tanaquil Le Clercq was a principal dancer with New York City Ballet. Tanny, as she was called by friends and family, was married to George Balanchine and was once considered his muse. Over her career Balanchine, Jerome Robbins, Merce Cunningham and others created a total of 32 roles just for her. Her incredible dancing career ended abruptly when she was stricken with polio in Copenhagen during the New York City Ballet company’s European tour in 1956.

A Kansas City Ballet Connection

Tanny was friends with Kansas City Ballet’s former Artistic Director Emeritus, Todd Bolender, when he was with New York City Ballet both as a dancer and as a tour manager. The two remained friends until her death in 2000. In fact just days/weeks after she was stricken with Polio, she had sent a letter to him. She had to dictate the letter to her mother, who wrote it for her, since she wasn’t able to write for herself. She later regained use of her arms and hands. This letter lives in the Kansas City Ballet archives as part of Todd Bolender’s effects. In it she shares personal details about her illness and her outlook on life.

The letter Tanny sent to Todd Bolender shortly after her diagnosis.
Page two of the letter.

Having never recovered the use of her legs, Tanny found other ways to share her love of ballet including teaching ballet to students using her hands and arms to demonstrate the steps. She also staged ballets for companies as well, even coming to Kansas City Ballet to teach on occasion. She also wrote books, took up photography and more.

Kansas City Ballet’s Archives host items and information that relate to Kansas City Ballet, its artistic staff, dancers, and ballet repertory. Look for other highlights from the archives on this blog.

Questions?

If you have questions about KCB history or our archives, please leave them in the comments.

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Kansas City Ballet Archives Updates Displays

New Kansas City Ballet School Display at the Bolender Center. Photography: Andrea Wilson.
New Kansas City Ballet School Display at the Bolender Center. Photography: Andrea Wilson.

Members of the Kansas City Ballet Archives, Lisa Schubert Hickok and Jean Murphy—both former Kansas City Ballet dancers and current KCB Guild members, have been working with KCB staff to update the contents of the display cases at the Bolender Center. These cases were originally unveiled when the building opened in August of 2011.

“It is our hope to revisit the collection annually to create relevancy to the upcoming season as well as to display items that are part of KCB’s official archives,” Hickok says.

NEW KCB SCHOOL CASE

New Kansas City Ballet School Display at the Bolender Center. Photography: Andrea Wilson.
Close Up of new Kansas City Ballet School Display at the Bolender Center. Photography: Andrea Wilson.

NEW KCB COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT & EDUCATION CASE

New Community Engagement and Education Display at the Bolender Center. Photography: Andrea Wilson.
New Community Engagement and Education Display at the Bolender Center. Photography: Andrea Wilson.

NEW KCB COMPANY CASES

New Company Performance Displays at the Bolender Center. Photography: Andrea Wilson.
New Company Performance Displays at the Bolender Center. Photography: Andrea Wilson.
New Company Performance Displays at the Bolender Center. Photography: Andrea Wilson.
Close up of new Company Performance Displays at the Bolender Center. Photography: Andrea Wilson.

MORE ABOUT THE ARCHIVES

Interested in the Kansas City Ballet’s Archives? Read more about them here in a blog post from June 2016.