Tallchief, Maria

Tallchief, Maria

biographical name


Maria Tallchief in Swan Lake.—Martha Swope

(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.

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