Thursday, April 2, 2020

Maria Tallchief


George Skibine and Maria Tallchief, Ballet Dancers performing routine on the beach at Biarritz in France, Tuesday 1st September 1953. The dancers are in France to attend a costume ball hosted by George de Cuevas, founder of the Ballet du Marquis de Cuevas. (Photo by Daily Mirror/Mirrorpix via Getty Images)

Maria Tallchief, whose father was a member of the Osage Nation, dreamed of being a ballet dancer from the time she was a little girl. At 17, she moved to New York City to pursue a career as a ballerina but racism stood in her way. She was advised many times to change her last name so her Native American heritage wouldn’t be readily apparent, but Tallchief refused. Her hard work, talent, and unwavering persistence paid off. Maria Tallchief eventually broke barriers as the first American to dance with the Paris Opera Ballet and the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow. She became the prima ballerina at the New York City Ballet and was regarded as one of the greatest dancers in the world.