MARIA TALLCHIEF ''Americans first Prima Ballerina'' Native American Heritage Month
This is a very long article about Maria Tallchief and the ''Five Moons''...American's first Prima Ballerina and the five native women that conquered the world ballet field.
BETH MARIA TALLCHIEF is famous for being the first American prima ballerina for the New York City Ballet. Born in Fairfax, Oklahoma, 1925, Maria's father was an Oasge Indian tribal chief.
She was originally known to family and friends as Betty Marie, but took on the stage name Maria Tallchief. Her Indian name is Wa-Xthe-Thomba ("Woman of Two Worlds").
Maria's younger sister, Marjorie Tallchief, is also a world-famous ballerina and the first American Indian to be "première danseuse étoile" of the Paris Opera Ballet . The dancing sisters enjoyed enormous artistic success during their long professional careers, and they founded the Chicago City Ballet in 1980.
"If anything at all, perfection is finally attained not when there is no longer anything to add, but when there is no longer anything to take away."- Maria Tallchief
Young Maria Tallchief professional American ballerina star pictured leaping in perfect form, photograph courtesy of New York City Ballet Archives.
PLAY "Pas de Dix" (Balanchine) TV Performance, 1957 — Maria Tallchief and Andre Eglevsky.
"Maria Tallchief took what had been a European art form and made it America's own — how fitting that a Native American woman would do that.
"George Balanchine once told audiences not to analyze ballet. 'Words cannot describe it,' he said, 'you cannot explain a flower.' So it's impossible to explain the radiance and grace of Maria Tallchief."- President William J. Clinton said at The White House as he presented the National Medal of the Arts to Maria in 1999.
In 1933 Maria moved to Beverly Hills with her family and studied ballet with Bronislava Nijinska until she was 17, at which time she moved to New York City and joined the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo where she quickly became a featured soloist.
It was in New York City where she met her first husband, Russian-born choreographer George Balanchine — they were married in 1946 (Maria was 21), and divorced in 1952. They did not have any children together.