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Orel Protopopescu, Dancing Past the Light: The Life of Tanaquil Le Clercq
Orel Protopopescu, Dancing Past the Light: The Life of Tanaquil Le Clercq

Wed, Oct 20


Collected Works Bookstore & Coffeehouse

Orel Protopopescu, Dancing Past the Light: The Life of Tanaquil Le Clercq

Dancing Past the Light cinematically illuminates the glamorous and moving life story of Tanaquil “Tanny” Le Clercq (1929-2000), one of the most celebrated ballerinas of the twentieth century. Orel will be in conversation with NDI-NM & NMSA co-founder Catherine Oppenheimer.

Date, Time & Location

Oct 20, 2021, 6:00 PM MDT

Collected Works Bookstore & Coffeehouse, 202 Galisteo St, Santa Fe, NM 87501, USA

About the Event

We will be taking COVID precautions, masks will be required for the duration of the program and seating will be spaced accordingly. We will be simultaneously live Zooming our events for those out of town or who would prefer it. You can register to watch it  here on Zoom.

Pre-order signed copies of Dancing Past the Light fom CW.

Born in Paris, Le Clercq became a principal dancer with the New York City Ballet at age 19 and a role model for aspiring dancers everywhere. Orel Protopopescu recounts Le Clercq's intense marriage to the company's renowned choreographer George Balanchine, for whom Le Clercq was a muse, the prototype of the exquisite, long-limbed "Balanchine ballerina." Enhanced with a wealth of previously unpublished photos, personal letters, and sketches by Balanchine, this book offers an intimate portrait of Le Clercq's dancing life and her relationship to the man who was both her mentor and husband. It delves into her friendships with other dancers as well, including a longtime rival for her affections, choreographer Jerome Robbins.

Le Clercq contracted polio while on tour in Europe at age 27 and would never dance again. This book offers a rare account of how Le Clercq grappled with a fate considered unimaginable for a ballerina and began to share her love of dance as a writer and dance teacher. It also highlights Le Clercq's role in the struggles for racial equality and disability rights. Her art was her vehicle: she and Arthur Mitchell made history as the couple in New York City Ballet's first interracial pas de deux at City Center in 1955 and later she taught from a wheelchair at his Dance Theatre of Harlem.

With insights from interviews with her friends, students, and colleagues, Dancing Past the Light depicts the joys and the dark moments of Le Clercq's dramatic life, celebrating her mighty legacy.

“Dancing Past the Light is absolutely fascinating, packed with remarkable details and photos I’ve never seen before, and very well written. It does great justice to Le Clercq and all the people who were part of her life.” —Stephanie White, former soloist, Grand Ballet Classique de France

About the Author

Orel Protopopescu has written prize-winning works for children and adults. A Word’s a Bird, her bilingual poetry app for iPad, was chosen by School Library Journal as one of the ten best children’s apps of 2013. Poet laureate Billy Collins called it “a wondrous learning experience…” Orel won the Oberon poetry prize in 2010 and 2020. Her first biography, Dancing Past the Light: The Life of Tanaquil Le Clercq (University Press of Florida, 2021), received a starred review in Library Journal.

About the Interlocuter

Catherine Oppenheimer co-founded the National Dance Institute of New Mexico in 1994 (NDI-NM) as Artistic and Executive Director and the New Mexico School for the Arts, New Mexico's first chartered residential high school for the performing and visual arts, in 2010. An artist in her own right, Catherine danced with the New York City Ballet under the leadership of choreographers George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins, and with the Twyla Tharp Dance Company. Currently Catherine is President of Santa Fe Southern Railroad, where she is working to revive and rebuild a 140 year old rail line.

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