Maria Tallchief, Osage (1925- )

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Maria Tallchief became the first American trained ballerina of international importance.

Maria Tallchief is known especially for her technical brilliance. Tallchief danced with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo form 1942 to 1947, but her career was chiefly associated with the New York City Ballet. She danced with this company from 1947 to 1965.

Maria Tallchief was born in Fairfax, Oklahoma, the daughter of an Osage Indian father and a Scottish-Irish-Dutch mother.

She was married to New York Ballet director George Balanchine from 1946 to 1951. She created roles in many of his ballets, including Orpheus (1948) and Scotch Symphony (1952). Her dancing in Balanchine’s version of The Firebird (1949) established her international reputation.

Maria Tallchief founded the Chicago City Ballet in 1980 and served as its artistic director from 1980 to 1987.