“One afternoon, we went to the House of Guerlain. George [Balanchine] wanted to choose a perfume for me. We sampled several before he settled on L’Heure Bleue (the expression the French have for twighlight), a beautiful, subtle fragrance that I still use today. George dabbed some on my neck below my ear and lowered his head. His lips softly touched mine. The solemnity with which he conducted the perfume ritual, and the unexpected display of affection, was a surprise and was more fulfilling because of that. I felt gratified and loved” (p.66, Maria Tallchief By Maria Tallchief, Larry Kaplan)
The first time I’ve read this passage from the autobiography of a renowned ballerina Maria Tallchief, I felt both moved and saddened. The former reaction was ellicited by the effect of perfume on these two people. The latter by my realization that obviously the love for L’Heure Bleue outlasted Tallchief’s marriage to Balanchine, a genius choreographer who changed the face of American ballet.
Whether one knows anything about ballet or not, this passage is a wonderful and rare glimpse into another woman’s relationship with scent. I hope to share more of such vignettes on these pages.
Photo: Maria Tallchief from Fargo Film Festival.