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Maria Tallchief
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    (January 24, 1925-April 11, 2013)
    Born in Fairfax, Oklahoma
    Birth name was Elizabeth Marie Tall Chief
    Father was an Osage chief, mother was Scots-Irish
    Prima ballerina with the New York City Ballet (1947-60)
    Notable roles include Swan Lake, The Nutcracker, Orpheus and The Firebird
    Founder and artistic director of the Chicago City Ballet (1981-87)
    Received the National Medal of Arts (1999)
    She married New York City Ballet choreographer George Balanchine in a 'business arrangement' where they slept in separate beds.
    When she told her roommate, fellow dancer Vida Brown, 'George proposed to me,' Brown's response was 'George who?'
    Some of the early interest in her was inspired by the apparent novelty of an American Indian ballerina, such as Time's description of her 'as American as wampum and apple pie.'
    During her third marriage, she had an affair with Rudolf Nureyev.
    When she joined the Ballet Russes (1942), she resisted demands to Russify her name to Tallchiyeva.
    Dance critic Walter Terry wrote, 'Does she have any equals anywhere, inside or outside of fairyland? While watching her in The Nutcracker, one is tempted to doubt it.'
    She was hired by Jackie Kennedy to teach ballet to daughter Caroline.
    The Osage tribe gave her the honorary name Wa-Xthe-Thomba, meaning 'woman of two worlds.'

Credit: C. Fishel

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