Maria Tallchief

Maria Tallchief

Maria Tallchief was a ballerina born in Fairfax, Oklahoma on January 24, 1925. She danced from a very young age, and when she was 8, her parents moved to LA to help advance her dancing career as well as her sister’s. She stayed committed to to the art of ballet and at 17, she moved to New York to pursue her dream. She spent 5 years with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, where she met George Balanchine who advanced her career substantially and who she fell in love with and wed. In 1946, Balanchine co-founded the New York City Ballet, and Tallchief became the company’s first star. Tallchief danced her heart out, and Balanchine choreographed her steps; together they revolutionized the Ballet. Dancing in Firebird and The Nutcracker, Tallchief established herself as the prima ballerina of her time. She was an amazing dancer, and her skills made the ballet attractive and alluring to Americans for one of the first times in US history. Additionally, after touring in with the Paris Opera Ballet, the french fell in love with her and worshiped her creativity and skill. Tallchief was disliked by many dancers due to her talent, but she changed the ballet scene forever. After her retirement from the ballet, she continued promoting her passion as the director of ballet at the Lyric Opera of Chicago and by founding the Chicago city ballet. Tallchief fascinated me with her intense devotion to her passion of ballet. Her relationship with Balanchine also interested me as two lovers worked together to change their niche in the world of ballet into something more advanced and beautiful.

Mariah Bartelmez


3 thoughts on “Maria Tallchief

  1. I find it so fascinating how she made such an impact on the world’s perception of ballet. I think it’s a great thing to be informed about this since this was a woman who made a difference. Normally when a woman has made an impact, in the earlier decades, she was a revolutionist or a leader, but to do so as a dancer broke a whole new barrier! I feel as though her actions express that all you need is dedication and spunk, and almost anything can be accomplished.

    Dia Clark

  2. I think it’s interesting that Tallchief and Balachine were able to work so well together. Normally when husbands and wives work together, especially in the arts, it does not work out well. Maybe they were able to work so well together because they weren’t competing, but helping each other and portraying the other’s work. Also, I think it’s interesting that Balanchine discovered her in Monte Carlo because he also discovered Peter Martins, who I researched, abroad. It’s also a very common theme for other artists to dislike one due to their talent. It’s something I have witnessed through my experiences in theatre and I was doing theatre at a very low level.

    Abby Jones

  3. I did read a bit about Maria Tallchief and somehow missed that fact that she married Balanchine! While I know that she won the positions and solos that she did due to her passion and talent, it still makes it seem an even more romantic career. A life of true passion! And I love to see dancers do great things even after they stop performing professionally, and Tallchief is a great example of that. The impressiveness of her career doesn’t end when she retires from the ballet but only moves on to the foundation of the Chicago ballet and work with the Lyric Opera.

    Savanna Lawing

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