World renowned Native American ballerina, Marjorie Tallchief, dies at 95

Marjorie Tallchief, renowned as the first American and Native American “première danseuse étoile” at the Paris Opera Ballet, died at the age of 95 in her Florida home Nov. 30.

Tallchief grew up on the Osage Reservation in Fairfax, Oklahoma before moving to Los Angeles with her family to pursue a career as a ballerina.

Our sincere condolences to the Tallchief family. Marjorie Tallchief made history with her brilliant talent and has left a legacy of the love of ballet in the Osage Nation and around the world.

Posted by Osage Ballet on Monday, December 6, 2021

She first accepted the position of leading soloist in the Colonel de Basil’s Original Ballet Russe. From there, Tallchief joined the Nouveau Ballet de Monte Carlo, which was renamed the Grand Ballet Du Marquis de Cuevas in 1947.

Tallchief then became the first American and Native American to be “première danseuse étoile,” the highest rank a dancer can reach in the Paris Opera Ballet.

She performed to great acclaim in Annabel Lee, Romeo and Juliet, Camille, Pastorale and Ariadne. Tallchief performed for U.S. Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson.

Tallchief was inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame in 1972.

She and her sister Maria, and three other Native American dancers, known as the Five Moons, were named Oklahoma Treasures at the Governor’s Arts Awards in 1997.

Their legacy lives on with bronze sculptures outside the Tulsa Historical Society in midtown Tulsa and a mural in the Oklahoma State Capitol. The University of Oklahoma also held a festival in their name this year and offer an annual scholarship in Tallchief’s name.

Yvonne Chouteau, Rosella Hightower, Moscelyne Larkin, and Maria and Marjorie Tallchief: the five Oklahoma ballerinas of...

Posted by American Ballet Theatre on Monday, October 11, 2021