Five Moons

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The Five Moons are five Native American ballerinas from the U.S. state of Oklahoma who achieved international prominence during the 20th century. They are Yvonne Chouteau, Rosella Hightower, Moscelyne Larkin, and sisters Maria Tallchief and Marjorie Tallchief. [1] Five Moons (2007) is the name of a bronze sculpture installation in Tulsa, Oklahoma, that portrays the five ballerinas.

Native Americans in the United States Indigenous peoples of the United States (except Hawaii)

Native Americans, also known as American Indians, Indigenous Americans and other terms, are the indigenous peoples of the United States, except Hawaii. There are over 500 federally recognized tribes within the US, about half of which are associated with Indian reservations. The term "American Indian" excludes Native Hawaiians and some Alaska Natives, while Native Americans are American Indians, plus Alaska Natives of all ethnicities. Native Hawaiians are not counted as Native Americans by the US Census, instead being included in the Census grouping of "Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander".

U.S. state constituent political entity of the United States

In the United States, a state is a constituent political entity, of which there are currently 50. Bound together in a political union, each state holds governmental jurisdiction over a separate and defined geographic territory and shares its sovereignty with the federal government. Due to this shared sovereignty, Americans are citizens both of the federal republic and of the state in which they reside. State citizenship and residency are flexible, and no government approval is required to move between states, except for persons restricted by certain types of court orders. Four states use the term commonwealth rather than state in their full official names.

Oklahoma State of the United States of America

Oklahoma is a state in the South Central region of the United States, bordered by Kansas on the north, Missouri on the northeast, Arkansas on the east, Texas on the south, New Mexico on the west, and Colorado on the northwest. It is the 20th-most extensive and the 28th-most populous of the fifty United States. The state's name is derived from the Choctaw words okla and humma, meaning "red people". It is also known informally by its nickname, "The Sooner State", in reference to the non-Native settlers who staked their claims on land before the official opening date of lands in the western Oklahoma Territory or before the Indian Appropriations Act of 1889, which dramatically increased European-American settlement in the eastern Indian Territory. Oklahoma Territory and Indian Territory were merged into the State of Oklahoma when it became the 46th state to enter the union on November 16, 1907. Its residents are known as Oklahomans, and its capital and largest city is Oklahoma City.


The ballerinas

Yvonne Chouteau (Shawnee Tribe, 1929-2016), grew up in Vinita, Oklahoma and her tribe, the Shawnee Tribe was part of the Cherokee Nation but is now independent. At age 14, she became the youngest dancer to be accepted by the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. She and her husband Miguel Terekhov founded the Oklahoma City Civic Ballet, now known as Oklahoma City Ballet. [2]

Myra Yvonne Chouteau was one of the "Five Moons" or Native prima ballerinas of Oklahoma. She was the only child of Col. Corbett Edward and Lucy Arnett Chouteau. She was born March 7, 1929 in Fort Worth, Texas. In 1943, she became the youngest dancer ever accepted to the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, where she worked for fourteen years, In 1962, she and her husband, Miguel Terekhov, founded the first fully accredited university dance program in the United States, the School of Dance at the University of Oklahoma. A member of the Shawnee Tribe, she is also of ethnic French ancestry, the great-great-great-granddaughter of Maj. Jean Pierre Chouteau. From the Chouteau family of St. Louis, he established Oklahoma's oldest European-American settlement, at the present site of Salina, in 1796. She grew up in Vinita, Oklahoma.

Shawnee Tribe

The Shawnee Tribe is a federally recognized Native American tribe in Oklahoma. Also known as the Loyal Shawnee, they are one of three federally recognized Shawnee tribes. The others are the Absentee-Shawnee Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma and Eastern Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma.

Vinita, Oklahoma City in Oklahoma, United States

Vinita is a city in south-central Craig County, in northeastern Oklahoma, United States. It is the county seat of Craig County. As of the 2010 census, the population was 5,743, a decrease of 11.22 percent from 6,469 at the 2000 census.

Rosella Hightower (Choctaw Nation, 1920-2008), was born in Durwood, Oklahoma. She studied ballet in Kansas City, Kansas and New York. Hightower first danced for the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo and several other companies. She founded the Center for Classical Dance in Cannes, France and was the director of the Marseilles Opera Ballet, the Ballet de Nancy, and the Ballet de l'Opéra National de Paris. In 1975, she garnered France's premier honor, the Chevalier de la Légion d'Honneur . [3]

Rosella Hightower ballerina and ballet teacher

Rosella Hightower was an American ballerina who achieved fame in both the United States and Europe.

Durwood, Oklahoma Unincorporated community in Oklahoma, United States

Durwood is an unincorporated community located in Carter County, Oklahoma. The elevation is 843 feet.

Kansas City, Kansas City and County seat in Kansas, United States

Kansas City is the third-largest city in the State of Kansas, the county seat of Wyandotte County, and the third-largest city of the Kansas City metropolitan area. Kansas City, Kansas is abbreviated as "KCK" to differentiate it from Kansas City, Missouri, after which it is named. It is part of a consolidated city-county government known as the "Unified Government". Wyandotte County also includes the independent cities of Bonner Springs and Edwardsville. As of the 2010 census, the city had a population of 145,786 residents. It is situated at Kaw Point, which is the junction of the Missouri and Kansas rivers.

Moscelyne Larkin (Peoria/Eastern Shawnee/Russian, 1925-2012) was born in Miami, Oklahoma. Her mother personally trained her in ballet until she moved to New York to continue her studies. Larkin joined the Original Ballet Russe at age 15, and later danced for the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. She moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma with her husband Roman Jansinsky, where they founded the Tulsa Ballet Theatre. [4]

Moscelyne Larkin American ballet dancer

Edna Moscelyne Larkin Jasinski was one of the "Five Moons", Native American ballerinas from Oklahoma who gained international fame in the 20th century. After dancing with the Original Ballet Russe and the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, she and her husband settled in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where in 1956 they founded the Tulsa Ballet and its associated school. It became a major regional company in the American Southwest and made its New York City debut in 1983. She is portrayed in the mural Flight of Spirit displayed in the Rotunda of the Oklahoma State Capitol building.

Peoria people Native American ethnicity

The Peoria are a Native American people. Today they are enrolled in the federally recognized Peoria Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma. Historically, they were part of the Illinois Confederation.

Miami, Oklahoma City in Oklahoma, United States

Miami is a city in and county seat of Ottawa County, Oklahoma, United States, founded in 1891. Lead and zinc mining established by 1918, caused it to boom. It is the capital of the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma, after which it is named, the Modoc Tribe of Oklahoma, Ottawa Tribe of Oklahoma, Peoria Tribe of Indians and Shawnee Tribe. As of the 2010 census, it had 13,570 inhabitants, a one percent decline since 2000.

Maria Tallchief (Osage Nation, 1925-2013) was born in Fairfax, Oklahoma. Her family moved to Los Angeles, California to give her and her sister the best ballet training. She joined the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo and later the New York City Ballet. She married its director and choreographer George Balanchine, who created ballets for her. [5]

Maria Tallchief American ballerina

Elizabeth Marie "Betty" Tall Chief was an American ballerina. She was considered America's first major prima ballerina, and was the first Native American to hold the rank.

Osage Nation Native American Siouan-speaking tribe in the United States

The Osage Nation is a Midwestern Native American tribe of the Great Plains. The tribe developed in the Ohio and Mississippi river valleys around 700 BC along with other groups of its language family. They migrated west of the Mississippi after the 17th century due to wars with Iroquois invading the Ohio Valley from New York and Pennsylvania in a search for new hunting grounds. The nations separated at that time, and the Osage settled near the confluence of the Missouri and the Mississippi rivers.

Fairfax, Oklahoma Town in Oklahoma, United States

Fairfax is a town in Osage County, Oklahoma, United States. The Osage Nation reservation is co-terminus with the County. The population was 1,380 at the 2010 census, down 11.3 percent from 1,555 at the 2000 census. It is notable as the home of world-famous ballerinas Maria and Marjorie Tallchief.

Marjorie Tallchief (Osage Nation, born 1926) is Maria's sister. She grew up in Fairfax, Oklahoma. She became the first Native American premiere danseuse étoile in the Paris Opéra. Tallchief danced in a number of ballet companies and was director of dance at the school of the Dallas Civic Ballet (later renamed the Dallas Ballet) Dallas; the City Ballet of Chicago; and the Harid Conservatory of Boca Raton, Florida. [6]

Marjorie Tallchief American ballerina

Marjorie Tallchief is a former ballerina of the Osage Nation. She is the younger sister of the late prima ballerina, Maria Tallchief, and was the first Native American to be named "première danseuse étoile" in the Paris Opera Ballet.

The HARID Conservatory is a ballet professional-training school for high-school age students. It was established in 1987 and is located in Boca Raton, Florida. A four-year curriculum is offered that includes ballet and related dance courses. Academic coursework is provided on campus through Florida Virtual School. HARID is recognized as a high school by the State of Florida.

Boca Raton, Florida City in Florida

Boca Raton is the southernmost city in Palm Beach County, Florida, United States, first incorporated on August 2, 1924 as "Bocaratone," and then incorporated as "Boca Raton" in 1925. The 2015 population estimated by the U.S. Census Bureau was 93,235. However, approximately 200,000 people with a Boca Raton postal address reside outside its municipal boundaries. Such areas include newer developments like West Boca Raton. As a business center, the city also experiences significant daytime population increases. It is one of the wealthiest communities in South Florida. Boca Raton is 43 miles (69 km) north of Miami and is a principal city of the Miami metropolitan area, which had a population of 6,012,331 people as of 2015.

Artistic tributes

Two of the Five Moons sculptures at the Tulsa Historical Society. From left to right: Marjorie Tallchief, Rosella Hightower. Five Moons 2.jpg
Two of the Five Moons sculptures at the Tulsa Historical Society. From left to right: Marjorie Tallchief, Rosella Hightower.

The ballerinas inspired other forms of art. A ballet entitled The Four Moons was created for the Oklahoma Indian Ballerina Festival in 1967. The ballet, set to music by the Oklahoma native Louis Ballard, a Quapaw-Cherokee composer, consists of four solos that evoke each dancer’s tribal heritage. [7] The Osage solo is dedicated to both Tallchief sisters, thus explaining The Four Moons title, as opposed to five.

Chickasaw artist Mike Larsen painted a mural depicting the Five Moons, entitled Flight of Spirit. The mural hangs in the Oklahoma State Capitol Rotunda in Oklahoma City. [4] One of the last paintings by Muscogee Creek artist Jerome Tiger was The Four Moons, used for the cover of Louis Ballard's ballet program. The 1967 distemper and casein painting features Chouteau, Hightower, Larkin, and Marjorie Tallchief in a range of dynamic dance positions with four stylized moons, on a solid blue field. [8]

Lili Cockerille Livingston wrote a biography of the women, entitled American Indian Ballerinas,. She excluded Moscelyne Larkin Jasinski from the book at her request. [9]


Three of the Five Moons sculptures at the Tulsa Historical Society. From left to right: Maria Tallchief, Yvonne Chouteau, Moscelyne Larkin. Five Moons 1.jpg
Three of the Five Moons sculptures at the Tulsa Historical Society. From left to right: Maria Tallchief, Yvonne Chouteau, Moscelyne Larkin.

The Five Moons sculpture was unveiled at the Tulsa Historical Society in November 2007. The sculptures present each of the women in a costume and pose representative of one of their signature roles. The project was begun in 1995 by artist Monte England. England, inspired by Mike Larsen's mural, desired to create a tribute in bronze to the ballerinas in his hometown of Tulsa. [10] Sponsorship of the project was provided by Tulsa Historical Society and the Tulsa Ballet, whose representative monitored the project to help England ensure that details such as hand position and dress were accurate. In 2005, however, England died, having completed only two of the full-sized sculptures. England's long-time friend and fellow sculptor Gary Henson was asked to complete the project. Henson was provided license by the Ballet and Historical Society to complete the remaining sculptures in his own style, which differed slightly from that of England.

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  1. Anderson, Jack (2012-01-09). "Miguel Terekhov, Dancer With Ballets Russes, Dies at 83". New York Times . Retrieved 2011-01-28.
  2. Vincent, Melissa. Chouteau Myra Yvonne (Terekhov) (1929-). Oklahoma Historical Society's Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History & Culture. 2009 (retrieved 9 Feb 2009)
  3. Short, Candy Franklin. Hightower, Rosella (1920-). Oklahoma Historical Society's Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History & Culture. 2009 (retrieved 9 Feb 2009)
  4. 1 2 Foster, Toni Annette. Larkin, Moscelyne (1925-). Oklahoma Historical Society's Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History & Culture. 2009 (retrieved 9 Feb 2009)
  5. Nance, Starlynn Raenae. Tallchief, Elizabeth Maria (1925-). Oklahoma Historical Society's Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History & Culture. 2009 (retrieved 9 Feb 2009)
  6. Short, Candy Franklin. Tallchief, Marjorie Louise (1926-). Oklahoma Historical Society's Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History & Culture. 2009 (retrieved 9 Feb 2009)
  7. Everett, Dianna. Ballard, Louis Wayne (1931-). Oklahoma Historical Society's Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History & Culture. 2009 (retrieved 9 Feb 2009)
  8. Morand, Ann, Kevin Smith, Daniel C. Swan, and Sarah Erwin. Treasures of Gilcrease: Selections from the Permanent Collection. Tulsa, OK: Gilcrease Museum, 2003: 111. ISBN   0-9725657-1-X
  9. Livingston, Lili Cockerille. American Indian Ballerinas. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1999: xix.
  10. Tulsa World, November 11, 2007