Maria Tallchief

Maria Tallchief

Maria Tallchief (born January 24, 1925) was the first American prima ballerina. From 1942 to 1947 she danced with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, but she is best known for her time with the New York City Ballet from 1947 to 1965.

Contents

Early life

Her full name was Elizabeth Maria Tallchief; her family called her Betty Marie. She was born in Fairfax, Oklahoma to a father who was a chief in the Osage Nation and a Scots-Irish mother.

Of her childhood she wrote, "I was a good student and fit in at Sacred Heart (Catholic school). But in many ways, I was a typical Indian girl — shy, docile, introverted. I loved being outdoors and spent most of my time wandering around my big front yard, where there was an old swing and a garden. I'd also ramble around the grounds of our summer cottage hunting for arrowheads in the grass. Finding one made me shiver with excitement. Mostly, I longed to be in the pasture, running around where the horses were...".[1]

She enjoyed music, dancing and ballet. Her desire to pursue a career in the arts constituted a considerably challenging dream for a Native American child in those days. The family moved to Beverly Hills, California in 1933, where she studied ballet with Bronislava Nijinska for five years. Madame Nijinska's philosophy of discipline made sense to Tallchief. "When you sleep, sleep like a ballerina. Even on the street waiting for the bus, stand like ballerina".[1] Betty Marie continued to work hard and mastered technical skills well beyond her years. She premiered at the Hollywood Bowl.

New York

Tallchief left Los Angeles at the age of 17 and auditioned in New York City. She joined the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo and quickly rose to the status of featured soloist. At the suggestion of Agnes de Mille, she adopted the name Maria Tallchief.

Russian-born choreographer George Balanchine wrote several of his most famous works for her. The two were married on August 16, 1946; the marriage ended in 1952. They had no children. She was the first prima ballerina of the New York City Ballet from 1947 to 1960, where Balanchine was the principal choreographer. Her performance of Balanchine's The Firebird in 1949 and their earlier collaboration at the Paris Opera elevated Maria Tallchief onto the world stage. She also originated the role of the Sugarplum Fairy in Balanchine's version of The Nutcracker, in 1954.

Tallchief continued to dance with the New York City Ballet and with other groups until her retirement in 1965. With her sister Marjorie, she founded the Chicago City Ballet in 1981 and served as its artistic director until 1987. From 1990 to present she has been artistic advisor to Von Heidecke’s Chicago Festival Ballet.

Personal life

After her marriage to Balanchine ended, she later married Henry "Buzz" Paschen, a Chicago builder, on June 3, 1956. The latter marriage lasted until his death in 2003. They had one daughter, Elise Paschen (born 1959), an award-winning poet who served as the Executive Director of the Poetry Society of America from 1988 to 2001, and currently teaches in the writing program at the Art Institute of Chicago.

Maria Tallchief's younger sister, Marjorie Tallchief, also had a successful career as a ballet dancer and was for several years "première danseuse étoile" of the Paris Opera Ballet. She worked with her sister Maria many times over the years.

Honors

Documentary

A one hour documentary titled Maria Tallchief was completed in November 2007 by Sandy and Yasu Osawa of Upstream Productions in Seattle, Washington. The documentary will air on PBS stations at various times from 2007-2010. The film features 180 archival photos including some from Tallchief's personal collection covering the time period of her marriage to George Balanchine and her early years growing up in Fairfax, Oklahoma. In addition, clips from her performances include Swan Lake, Pas de Dix, Le Baiser de la Fée, The Nutcracker and The Firebird.

Film

Tallchief made a cameo appearance as Pavlova in the film Million Dollar Mermaid, starring Esther Williams. She also appears in the feature documentary Ballets Russes.

References

  1. ^ a b Maria Tallchief with Larry Kaplan, Maria Tallchief: America's Prima Ballerina, Holt (1998). ISBN 0-8050-3302-5.
  2. ^ Kennedy Center Biography
  3. ^ Dawn, Aulet. "Around Town: a high honor" Joliet Herald News, November 19, 2006 Retrieved on 2007-10-11.

External links


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Maria Tallchief — (* 24. Januar 1925 in Fairfax, Oklahoma, USA) war die erste US amerikanische Primaballerina. Von 1942 bis 1947 tanzte sie beim Ballets Russes, aber am bekanntesten ist sie aufgrund ihrer Zeit beim New York City Ballet, wo sie von 1947 bis 1965… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Maria Tallchief — Tallchief se redirige aquí; para el vehículo blindado atracador véase Heather Tallchief. Betty Marie Tall Chief (24 de enero de 1925) es una bailarina estadounidense hoy retirada. Entre 1942 y 1947 danzó con el Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, pero… …   Wikipedia Español

  • Maria Tallchief — noun United States ballerina who promoted American ballet through tours and television appearances (born in 1925) • Syn: ↑Tallchief • Instance Hypernyms: ↑dancer, ↑professional dancer, ↑terpsichorean …   Useful english dictionary

  • Tallchief — Maria Tallchief (* 24. Januar 1925 in Fairfax, Oklahoma, USA) war die erste US amerikanische Primaballerina. Von 1942 bis 1947 tanzte sie beim Ballets Russes, aber am bekanntesten ist sie aufgrund ihrer Zeit beim New York City Ballet, wo sie von… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Tallchief — is a surname and may refer to:* Heather Tallchief (born 1972), American armed robber * Maria Tallchief (born 1925), American ballerina …   Wikipedia

  • Tallchief, Maria — born Jan. 24, 1925, Fairfax, Okla., U.S. U.S. ballet dancer of Native American descent. Tallchief studied with Bronislava Nijinska before joining the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo (1942–47). She joined the New York City Ballet in 1948 and became… …   Universalium

  • Tallchief, Marjorie — ▪ American dancer born Oct. 19, 1927, Fairfax, Okla., U.S.       ballerina, dance teacher, and the first American ever to become the première danseuse étoile at the Paris Opéra Ballet.       Born in a town on an Osage Indian reservation in… …   Universalium

  • Tallchief, Maria — (n. 24 ene. 1925, Fairfax, Okla., EE.UU.). Bailarina estadounidense, hija de padres nativonorteameamericanos. Estudió con Bronislava Nijinska antes de integrarse al Ballet ruso de Montecarlo (1942–47). Se unió al New York City Ballet en 1948 y… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Tallchief — noun United States ballerina who promoted American ballet through tours and television appearances (born in 1925) • Syn: ↑Maria Tallchief • Instance Hypernyms: ↑dancer, ↑professional dancer, ↑terpsichorean * * * /tawl cheef /, n. Maria born …   Useful english dictionary

  • María — I (Del nombre propio María, madre de Jesucristo.) ► sustantivo femenino 1 Vela blanca puesta en lo alto del tenebrario. 2 HISTORIA Antigua moneda de plata. 3 COCINA Galleta redonda y plana de composición simple: ■ para merendar hay marías y leche …   Enciclopedia Universal

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”