Balanchine's 'Western Symphony'
with Tanaquil LeClercq - Paris 1956
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by Barnett Serchuk
I was going to do a story on Hershy Kay and his contributions to ballet music when I came upon the 1956 film of George Balanchine's "Western Symphony." No, I'm not joking. Yes, the one filmed in France with Diana Adams, Herbert Bliss, Melissa Hayden, Nicholas Magallenes, Allegra Kent, Robert Barnett, Jacques d'Amboise and the iconic Tanaquil Le Clercq in one of her most famous roles. What makes this film so poignant is knowing that LeClercq would be stricken with polio a week later, effectively ending her career.
LeClercq was one of Balanchine's most famous ballerinas from the late 1940s until 1956. Unfortunately we don't have much footage of her in full length ballets, so here's one that spotlights her immense gifts not only for dance, but comedy as well. More about Hershy Kay later. For now watch this film. You'll understand why the LeClercq legend keeps growing.