Smart Girl Stories
Maria Tallchief

Maria Tallchief

Maria Tallchief was the first Native-American prima ballerina. Here are some fun facts about her:

– In 1925, she was born on the Osage Indian Reservation in Fairfax, Oklahoma.

– When Maria turned eight, she and her family moved to Los Angeles, California. There she began taking ballet lessons right away.

– She was a big piano player, also. Her schedule was to wake up, play piano for an hour before school, go to school, come home from school, play piano for another hour, then attend her ballet lessons. It was a lot of work, but Maria loved it. But when she turned twelve, she was told she had to pick one or the other, she picked ballet.

– After picking ballet, she began at a new ballet school with a famous Russian ballerina, named Madame Nijinska, who taught Maria for the next 5 years.

-Her dream was always to be a part of the Ballet Ruse de Monte Carlo. So she moved to New York, when she was seventeen, to accomplish this goal. Soon, she was one of their ballerinas. She was such an amazing ballerina that she became a featured soloist.

– With this company, she traveled the world and danced in many famous ballet houses across Europe.

– She became the first Native-American prima ballerina for the New York City Ballet, in 1947.

– In 1965, she retired from dancing, so in 1981, she and her sister founded the Chicago City Ballet.

– She was given many awards over the years including the Kennedy Center Honors for her lifetime contributions to American culture, the National Medal of Arts, and there is a statue of her and four other Native-American ballerinas in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

-She married a famous choreographer, George Balanchine, in 1946.

– Her sister, Marjorie Tallchief, also became a famous ballerina, becoming the first prima ballerina, or “premiere danseuse etoile” of the Paris Opera Ballet.

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