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Tallchief

Tallchief

[tawl-cheef]
Tallchief, Maria, 1925-, American ballerina, b. Fairfax, Okla. Tallchief, of Osage descent, was trained both as a pianist and as a dancer. Deciding on a career in ballet, she studied under Bronislava Nijinska, Ernest Belcher, and George Balanchine, whom she later married. She performed with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo from 1942 to 1947, when she joined the Ballet Society (later the New York City Ballet). Through 18 years as that company's prima ballerina and through her tours and television appearances with the American Ballet Theatre and other companies in the 1960s, Tallchief contributed greatly to the fame and prestige of American ballet.

See her autobiography (1997).

Her younger sister, Marjorie Tallchief, 1927-, b. Denver Colo., was première danseuse with the Paris Opéra Ballet from 1957 to 1962. She also performed with many other companies, retiring in 1966.

Maria Tallchief in Swan Lake.

(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 its prima ballerina, creating leading roles in many ballets choreographed for her by George Balanchine (her husband from 1946 to 1952), including Symphonie concertante (1947), Caracole (1952), and Pas de dix (1955). She left the company in 1965, became artistic director of the Lyric Opera Ballet in Chicago, and founded the Chicago City Ballet in 1980.

Learn more about Tallchief, Maria with a free trial on Britannica.com.

Maria Tallchief in Swan Lake.

(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 its prima ballerina, creating leading roles in many ballets choreographed for her by George Balanchine (her husband from 1946 to 1952), including Symphonie concertante (1947), Caracole (1952), and Pas de dix (1955). She left the company in 1965, became artistic director of the Lyric Opera Ballet in Chicago, and founded the Chicago City Ballet in 1980.

Learn more about Tallchief, Maria with a free trial on Britannica.com.

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