Support Village Voice News With a Donation of Your Choice.
“Elizabeth Marie Tallchief, a trailblazer in the world of ballet, was born on this day in 1925. Hailing from the Osage Reservation in Oklahoma, Tallchief made history as America’s first major prima ballerina and the first Native American to hold the prestigious rank.
Starting formal dance lessons at the young age of three, Tallchief quickly established herself as a force to be reckoned with in the dance world. Despite the pressure to adopt a Russian stage name, as many American dancers did at the time, Tallchief proudly kept her name and refused to hide her Indian heritage.
Tallchief’s talent and dedication to her craft brought her to dance with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo from 1942 to 1947, and the New York City Ballet from its founding in 1947 through 1965. She performed in many iconic roles, including the title role in George Balanchine’s ballet “Firebird.”
Tallchief’s legacy lives on, she revolutionized ballet and left behind a legacy that continues to inspire new generations of dancers today. Sadly, Tallchief passed away in 2013 at the age of 88, but her memory will live forever in the world of dance.”