The Ballerina Gallery
Maria Tallchief
b. 1925
New York City Ballet, Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo


Photo: Baron

Photo: Martha Swope

Photo: Baron

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Maria Tallchief was born in Fairfax, Oklahoma, in 1925. She studied in Los Angeles with Ernest Belcher and Bronislava Nijinska, and later at the School of American Ballet in New York. She danced with Serge Denham's Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo from 1942 to 1947. She was married to Balanchine from 1946 to 1951 and became the leading ballerina of the New York City Ballet. A muse of Balanchine, who created over 25 roles for her. She was the first truly virtuosic American ballerina. Firebird was her most important role.

The roles she created for Balanchine includes Symphony concertante (1947), Symphony in C (1948), Orpheus (1948), Firebird (1949), Bourčes fantasque (1949), Sylvia Pas de deux (1950), Jones Beach (1950), Swan Lake (1951), Caracole (1952), Scotch Symphony (1952), Nutcracker (1954), Pas de dix (1955), Alleggro brillante (1956) and Gounod Symphony (1958).

She guest danced with American Ballet Theatre (1949 and 1960-62), Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo (1955) and the Hamburg Ballet (1965). She left NYCB in 1966. She was artistic director of the Chicago Lyric Opera Ballet from 1975, and in 1981 she founded Chicago City Ballet.