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Afternoon of a Faun

Repertory Archive

Afternoon of a Faun

Choreography by Jerome Robbins
Staged by Jean-Pierre Frohlich
Music by Claude Debussy (Prélude a l‚Äôaprès-midi d‚Äôun faune)
Setting and Original Lighting by Jean Rosenthal
Costumes by Irene Sharaff
Lighting Recreated by Perry Silvey

World Premiere

New York City Ballet
May 14, 1953
City Center
New York, New York

Tanaquil LeClercq
Francisco Moncion

ABT Premiere

October 19, 2005
City Center
New York, New York

Julie Kent
Ethan Stiefel


The scene is an empty ballet studio, the long mirror in which all dancers watch themselves being the fourth wall of stage convention – the audience. The Nymph and Faun are dancers who meet there by chance, and were it not that they are more absorbed in their own images in the mirror than in the reality of their intimate physical contact as they dance together, a romance might have ensued. Robbins is saying something fundamental about the essential narcissism of dancers. 


Claude Debussy’s Prelude a l’aprés-midi d’un faune was composed between 1892 and 1894. It was inspired by a poem of Mallarmé’s which was begun in 1876. The poem describes the reveries of a faun and a real or imagined encounter with nymphs. In 1912 Vaslav Nijinsky presented his famous ballet, drawing his ideas from many sources including Greek sculpture and painting.

This pas de deux by Jerome Robbins is a variation on these themes and is dedicated to Tanaquil Le Clercq for whom the ballet was choreographed.