Maria Tallchief: a Tribute

She was an American prima ballerina when the concept hadn’t yet been invented. She was a First Lady of dance, not just for the ambassadorship she provided for American dancers to the rest of the ballet world, but also because she was the wife of one of ballet’s greatest, George Balanchine, for six years. But enough about George. Saving that legend for another time, because I’d rather spend this space celebrating, and mourning, the passage of one of the most extraordinary female performers, not to mention beautiful, spirited warrior woman, of this century.

Maria Tallchief, you are every bit the legend your Osage ancestors were. You are one of the dance world’s greats. We’ve lost you, but your memory will never die.

Check out this wonderful article and eulogy from the Chicago Tribune:,0,3364156.story

And check out this New York Times article that has several links to some of her best known performances:

2 thoughts on “Maria Tallchief: a Tribute”

  1. Yes, here’s some interesting stuff, cut and pasted from the above Chicago Tribune article link:

    Elizabeth Marie Tall Chief was born on Jan. 24, 1925 in Fairfax, Okla., a small town in Indian reservation country, a territory covering hundreds of miles of Osage tribal lands, rich with oil. Her mother had moved west from Kansas to become the second wife of her father, Alexander Joseph Tall Chief, a widower with three children.

    The Tall Chiefs were a family with noble traditions. Her grandfather, Chief Big Heart, had served as a negotiator for the tribe’s treaties with the United States government. Her paternal grandmother, Eliza, later led her awed granddaughter, known then as Betty Marie, to watch Osage ceremonial dances, grand spectacles of movement, fervor and deep cultural meaning.


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