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born 1925

Through incredible dedication + an unmatched work ethic, Maria Tallchief rose through the ranks of the ballet world to emerge as the United State's first major prima ballerina. She brought an astounding level of energy and athleticism to ballet that ~ coupled with her technical prowess ~ helped to revolutionize the art form. 

As a Native American in a field largely dominated by Russian dancers, Maria broke the typical ballet mold. She was instrumental in popularizing the old-world art form in the US and left a legacy of extraordinary ability, dedication + innovation.

bio bits

her quotes

all quotes by Maria Tallchief (7)

"The Nutcracker absolutely was our staple every year. We even took it out to California in the summertime, and danced it at the Greek Theatre with great success! Why not? Christmas in summer."

Conversation Piece: Prima Ballerina Maria Tallchief | september 1994

"To me there’s nothing more glorious than the human voice."

Conversation Piece: Prima Ballerina Maria Tallchief | september 1994

"From your first plié you are learning to become an artist. In every sense of the word you are poetry in motion."

Conversation Piece: Prima Ballerina Maria Tallchief | september 1994

"[W]e didn't concentrate only for an hour and a half a day on what was being taught. We lived it, and I was beginning to understand just how hard I was going to have to work if I wanted to be a dancer."

Maria Tallchief: America's Prima Ballerina | april 2005

"If anything at all, perfection is not when there is nothing to add, but when there is nothing left to take away."

Maria Tallchief: America's Prima Ballerina | april 2005

"Very often you are in the right place, at the right time, but you don't know it."

Prima Ballerina Maria Tallchief Remembers Her Roots | may 2008

"I think it is an innate quality that Indians have to dance. They dance when they are happy, they dance when they are sad. They dance when they get married, they dance when someone dies."

Prima Ballerina Maria Tallchief Remembers Her Roots | may 2008
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curated with care by Angela Willard {september 2014}