Marjorie Tallchief

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Marjorie Tallchief
Marjorie Tallchief, head-and-shoulders portrait, facing front.jpg
Marjorie Tallchief in 1956
BornMarjorie Louise Tall Chief
(1926-10-19) October 19, 1926 (age 91)
Denver, Colorado, U.S.
Occupation Ballerina
Former groups Paris Opera Ballet

Marjorie Tallchief (born October 19, 1926) 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. [1] [2]

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.

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.

Paris Opera Ballet ballet company

The Paris Opera Ballet is an integral part of the Paris Opera and the oldest national ballet company. Together with the Mariinsky Ballet, Moscow Bolshoi Ballet and the London Royal Ballet it is regarded as one of the four most preeminent ballet companies in the world.


Early life

Marjorie Louise Tall Chief was born October 19, 1926, [2] in Denver, Colorado while her parents, Alexander Tall Chief and his wife, Ruth (née Porter), were on a family vacation with her older siblings, brother Gerald and sister Maria. She grew up in Fairfax, Oklahoma until 1933, when her family moved to Los Angeles so she and her sister could train in ballet dancing. She trained with Bronislava Nijinska and David Lichine. [1] [2]

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.

Los Angeles City in California

Los Angeles, officially the City of Los Angeles and often known by its initials L.A., is the most populous city in California, the second most populous city in the United States, after New York City, and the third most populous city in North America. With an estimated population of four million, Los Angeles is the cultural, financial, and commercial center of Southern California. The city is known for its Mediterranean climate, ethnic diversity, Hollywood and the entertainment industry, and its sprawling metropolis. Los Angeles is the largest city on the West Coast of North America.

Bronislava Nijinska Russian ballet dancer, teacher and choreographer

Bronislava Nijinska ; was a Polish ballet dancer, and an innovative choreographer. She came of age in a family of professional dancers. Her career began in Saint Petersburg. Soon she joined Ballets Russes which ventured to success in Paris. She later met war-time difficulties in 'Petrograd' and in turbulent Kiev. In France again, public acclaim for her works came quickly, cresting in the 1920s. She then enjoyed continuing successes in Europe and the Americas.


After completing her training in Los Angeles, Marjorie began performing for several dance companies. In the book, American Indian Ballerinas, Lili Cockerille Livingston wrote that Marjorie Tallchief had her professional debut with Lucia Chase and Richard Pleasant's Ballet Theatre as a first year soloist, in 1944. According to the Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, these included: "... the American Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo (1946-47), the Grand Ballet du Marquis de Cuevas (1948-55), Ruth Page's Chicago Opera Ballet (guest artist, 1958-62), and the Harkness Ballet (prima ballerina, 1964-66). Her most acclaimed roles were performed in Night Shadow (1950), Annabel Lee (1951), Idylle (1954), Romeo and Juliet (1955), and Giselle (1957)."

Ruth Page (ballerina) American dancer

Ruth Page was an American ballerina and choreographer, who created innovative works on American themes.

She was the first Native American to be "première danseuse étoile" of the Paris Opera Ballet and performed with the Grand Ballet du Marquis de Cuevas. [3] During her career she also performed for dignitaries such as U.S. Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, and French President Charles de Gaulle. Marjorie taught at Dallas Civic Ballet Academy, later known as the Dallas Ballet. [4] After her retirement from the stage, she acted as a dance director for the Dallas Ballet, the Chicago Ballet School, and the Harid Conservatory until 1993. [3] [5]

John F. Kennedy 35th president of the United States

John Fitzgerald "Jack" Kennedy, commonly referred to by his initials JFK, was an American politician and journalist who served as the 35th president of the United States from January 1961 until his assassination in November 1963. He served at the height of the Cold War, and the majority of his presidency dealt with managing relations with the Soviet Union. A member of the Democratic Party, Kennedy represented Massachusetts in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate prior to becoming president.

Lyndon B. Johnson 36th president of the United States

Lyndon Baines Johnson, often referred to as LBJ, was an American politician who served as the 36th president of the United States from 1963 to 1969. Formerly the 37th vice president of the United States from 1961 to 1963, he assumed the presidency following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. A Democrat from Texas, Johnson also served as a United States Representative and as the Majority Leader in the United States Senate. Johnson is one of only four people who have served in all four federal elected positions.

Charles de Gaulle 18th President of the French Republic

Charles André Joseph Marie de Gaulle was a French army officer and statesman who led the French Resistance against Nazi Germany in World War II and chaired the Provisional Government of the French Republic from 1944 to 1946 in order to establish democracy in France. In 1958, he came out of retirement when appointed President of the Council of Ministers by President René Coty. He was asked to rewrite the Constitution of France and founded the Fifth Republic after approval by referendum. He was elected President of France later that year, a position he was reelected to in 1965 and held until his resignation in 1969. He was the dominant figure of France during the Cold War era, and his memory continues to influence French politics.


In 1991, she was inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame. In October 1997, she and her elder sister Maria, along with Moscelyne Larkin, Rosella Hightower, and Yvonne Chouteau, were named Oklahoma Treasures at the Governor's Arts Awards. [6]

The Oklahoma Hall of Fame was founded by the Oklahoma Memorial Association, a group founded in 1927 by Anna B. Korn with the purpose of establishing the hall of fame. In the 1970s, the Hefner Mansion was donated to the association to house the exhibits and busts or portraits of the inductees, and the organization changed its name to the Oklahoma Heritage Association in 1971. It then moved into the former Mid-Continent Life Insurance building in Oklahoma City in 2007 where it is now part of the Gaylord-Pickens Museum.

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.

Rosella Hightower ballerina and ballet teacher

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

Personal life

She had two children with her husband, the late director and choreographer George Skibine, and currently lives in Boca Raton, Florida. [2]

Theatre director person overseeing the mounting of a theatre production

A theatre director or stage director is an instructor in the theatre field who oversees and orchestrates the mounting of a theatre production by unifying various endeavours and aspects of production. The director's function is to ensure the quality and completeness of theatre production and to lead the members of the creative team into realizing their artistic vision for it. The director therefore collaborates with a team of creative individuals and other staff, coordinating research, stagecraft, costume design, props, lighting design, acting, set design, stage combat, and sound design for the production. If the production he or she is mounting is a new piece of writing or a (new) translation of a play, the director may also work with the playwright or translator. In contemporary theatre, after the playwright, the director is generally the primary visionary, making decisions on the artistic concept and interpretation of the play and its staging. Different directors occupy different places of authority and responsibility, depending on the structure and philosophy of individual theatre companies. Directors use a wide variety of techniques, philosophies, and levels of collaboration.

Choreography the art of arranging movements, such as in dance

Choreography is the art or practice of designing sequences of movements of physical bodies in which motion, form, or both are specified. Choreography may also refer to the design itself. A choreographer is one who creates choreographies by practicing the art of choreography, a process known as choreographing. Choreography is used in a variety of fields, including musical theater, cheerleading, cinematography, gymnastics, fashion shows, ice skating, marching band, show choir, theatre, synchronized swimming, cardistry, video game production and animated art. In the performing arts, choreography applies to human movement and form. In dance, choreography is also known as dance choreography or dance composition.

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  1. 1 2 Short, Candy Franklin. Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture. "Marjorie Tallchief." Retrieved December 9, 2012.
  2. 1 2 3 4 Profile of Marjorie Tallchief, Oklahoma State University library archives Archived 2008-08-29 at the Wayback Machine .
  3. 1 2 "The first step 32 students start dance training at Harid Conservatory..." Boca Raton News. September 13, 1988. Retrieved September 16, 2009.
  4. 1945-, Livingston, Lili Cockerille, (1997). American Indian ballerinas. Norman, Okla.: University of Oklahoma Press. ISBN   0806128968. OCLC   44965168.
  5. "Breathing life through dance". Tulsa World. July 15, 2007. Retrieved September 16, 2009.
  6. "Oklahoma's Indian Ballerinas To Be Honored as Treasures". Tulsa World. October 8, 1997. Retrieved September 16, 2009.