Dance from your heart and love your music, and the audience will love you in return
Maria Tallchief was the first major American Prima Ballerina. She was the first American to dance with the Paris Opera Ballet and in 1947 she became prima ballerina of the New City Ballet. Her longstanding relationship with choreographer George Balanchine led to many roles specifically created for her such as “The Firebird”.
As a member of the Osage Nation, she combated prejudice in the growth of her career and was discriminated against for her Native American heritage. She always preferred to be known as a dancer who happened to be native American, rather than a native American who danced. The honors she has received include induction into the National Women’s Hall of Fame, a National Medal of the Arts and Kennedy Center Honors for Lifetime achievements.
- Tallchief, Kaplan,” Maria Tallchief: America’s Prima Ballerina” 1997
- Day, Clinton, “She Persisted: Maria Tallchief”, 2021