Maria Tallchief portraits

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Maria Tallchief

Maria Tallchief

(January 24, 1925 - April 11, 2013)

Elizabeth Marie "Betty" Tallchief was an American ballerina. She was considered America's first major prima ballerina,[3] and was the first Native American to hold the rank.[1] Almost from birth, Tallchief was involved in dance, starting formal lessons at age three. When she was eight, her family relocated from her birth home of Fairfax, Oklahoma, to Los Angeles, California, to advance the careers of her and her younger sister, Marjori At age 17, she moved to New York City in search of a spot with a major ballet company, and, at the urging of her superiors, took the name Maria Tallchief. She spent the next five years with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, where she met legendary choreographer George Balanchine. When Balanchine co-founded what would become the New York City Ballet in 1946, Tallchief became the company's first star.[4]

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