“We were so lucky: we were in exactly the right place at the right time. . .”

So did Maria Tallchief tell Tanaquil Le Clercq years after their dance careers were over.

So did Tallchief recount this to me in 1981.

These two singular dancers were in the right place in the 1940s to be made by Balanchine charter ballerinas of New York City Ballet, and have great role after great role created for them by Balanchine and other choreographers of genius.

But no matter how gifted, ballet then as well as now is a buyer’s market. For every dancer who gets to the very top, as they did, others of equal gifts do not. That is more true today than ever before, as the talent pool keeps expanding even as the art form itself is beleaguered.

Not that both legendary ballerinas and Balanchine muse/wives didn’t enjoy a belief in their own entitlement, but no question: they understood the nitty and the gritty of it.

Not so, it seems the monster mutant oligarchs–the Kochs, the De Voses, the “cat people” Mercers, the Stephen Schwarzmans, the Jamie Dimons who have fomented the incredible delusion that they did it all by themselves. They have seceded from any notion of gratitude or civic responsibility–demanding in fact, more and more subsidy from the state that has allowed them to accumulate the vast fortunes they now command. And demanding, as well, that the rest of the country receive less and less.

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