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Dancer Maria Tallchief Made History By Doing What?

Elizabeth Marie Tall Chief was born on January 24, 1925 in Fairfax, Oklahoma. At the age of 17, Maria Tallchief moved to New York City to pursue a career of her dreams hence becoming a dancer. She struggled a lot while going from dance company to dance company. Many dance companies discriminated and slated her due to her Native American ancestry. Although Tallchief stood firm in the face of rejection. She continued working hard towards her goal and subsequently became one of America’s top and most famous ballerinas. 

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Early Life

Maria Tallchief’s father was a member of the Osage Nation. Her mother although was also greatly fond of dancing but she grew up in a poor household and couldn’t pursue a career in it. However, when Maria and her sister Marjorie showed interest in dance, their mother imminently put them into dancing lessons. Tallchief was highly efficient in dancing and singing. During her teen years, the Tallchief family moved to Los Angeles in hopes for a significant role. Unfortunately, they couldn’t find a potent opportunity to count on. But Tallchief’s work never stopped. She grew in the meantime and learnt many new dance genres and subsequently felt drawn to Ballet.

When Maria moved to New York City, she got appointed as an understudy in the Ballet Russe – a premier Russian Ballerina company in the United States. Her first breakthrough came when in 1942 a lead ballerina stepped down off the role and Tallchief was called in to fill the spot. Her performance was so lively that it imminently won the hearts of the critics. As her name started to grow, many companies advised Maria Tallchief to change her surname as she would get targeted of discrimination if not. She fiercely refused and continued as Maria Tallchief. In 1947, she became the first American to perform in the Paris Opera Ballet. 

After she married famous choreographer George Balanchine, she became prima ballerina of the New York City Ballet. One of her most popular roles was as the Sugar Plum Fairy in the Nutcracker. Maria Tallchief also portrayed her skills at the Boshloi theater in Moscow in 1960. She was yet again the first American to do so. 

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Why Is Maria Tallchief Significant To Ballet History?

Maria became the first American to perform in the Paris Opera Ballet. She broke all the superstitions and perceptions people had of Americans and made the critics realise that they are wrong. She continued making history when she performed at the Boshloi theatre in Moscow. Tallchief was yet again the first American to lay out a great performance in front of a hostile Russian crowd. 

Is Maria Tallchief Still Alive?

In December 2012, Maria Tallchief broke her hip. Due to the stemming complications of the injury, she died on April 11, 2013. 

Maria Tallchief Famous Quote

As being a Native American (Osage Nation), Maria Tallchief was targeted by criticism and discrimination. Although she continued performing and subsequently started winning hearts of her critics. “Dance from your heart and love your music, and the audience will love you in return.” This is the most famous quote of Maria Tallchief. 

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Maria Tallchief Firebird Costume 

Maria Tallchief Pictures