Maria Tallchief

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - View original article

Maria Tallchief
Born(1925-01-24) January 24, 1925 (age 87)
Fairfax, Oklahoma, United States
Years active1942-1965
Former groupsNew York City Ballet
Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo
DancesThe Nutcracker(the sugarplum fairy in Balanchines version),The Firebird
 
Jump to: navigation, search
Maria Tallchief
Born(1925-01-24) January 24, 1925 (age 87)
Fairfax, Oklahoma, United States
Years active1942-1965
Former groupsNew York City Ballet
Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo
DancesThe Nutcracker(the sugarplum fairy in Balanchines version),The Firebird

Elizabeth Maria Tallchief (born January 24, 1925) was the first Native American to become prima ballerina. From 1942 to 1947 she danced with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, but she is even better known for her time with the New York City Ballet, from its founding in 1947 through 1965. Known professionally as Maria Tallchief, her family called her Betty Marie.

Contents

Early life

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 was a challenging dream for a Native American child in those days. The family moved to Beverly Hills, California in 1933, where Maria 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]

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 became a 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

She married Henry "Buzz" Paschen, a Chicago builder, on June 3, 1956. This second 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

Documentaries

Tallchief is featured in a 1989 documentary, "Dancing for Mr. B".

Sandy and Yasu Osawa of Upstream Productions in Seattle, Washington made a documentary titled Maria Tallchief in November 2007, that was to be aired on PBS between 2007 and 2010.

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