Known for movies

Short Info

DiedApril 11, 2013, Chicago, Illinois, United States
SpouseHenry "Buzz" Paschen Jr., Elmourza "Elmo" Natirboff, George Balanchine
FactPrima ballerina.

Maria Tallchief was born on January 24, 1925 in Fairfax, Oklahoma. Her parents, Alexander and Ruth Tallchief, were both of Osage Native American heritage. She had two sisters, Marjorie and Elizabeth. Tallchief was raised in a strict Christian household and was expected to attend church every Sunday. She began taking ballet lessons at the age of three and quickly showed promise as a dancer.

Tallchief attended the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts on scholarship and studied under renowned ballet master George Balanchine. She made her professional debut with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo in 1944. The following year, she joined the New York City Ballet, where she would become the company’s first prima ballerina.

Tallchief’s most famous roles include the Sugar Plum Fairy in “The Nutcracker” and the title role in “The Firebird.” She also danced leading roles in ballets by other renowned choreographers, such as Jerome Robbins and Agnes de Mille. In 1951, she married fellow ballet dancer George Balanchine. The couple had one daughter, Maria Tallchief Balanchine.

Tallchief retired from dancing in 1965, but remained active in the ballet world as a teacher and administrator. In 1996, she was inducted into the National Museum of Dances Hall of Fame. She died on April 11, 2013 at the age of 88.

Maria Tallchief was one of the most celebrated ballet dancers of her generation. She was the first Native American to achieve international acclaim in the field of ballet. Throughout her career, she danced leading roles in some of the most iconic ballets of the 20th century. After her retirement from dancing, she remained an influential figure in the ballet world, serving as a teacher and administrator. She died in 2013 at the age of 88.

General Info

Full NameMaria Tallchief
DiedApril 11, 2013, Chicago, Illinois, United States
Height1.75 m
ProfessionBallet Dancer
EducationBeverly Hills High School


SpouseHenry "Buzz" Paschen Jr., Elmourza "Elmo" Natirboff, George Balanchine
ChildrenElise Paschen
ParentsAlexander Joseph Tall Chief, Ruth Porter
SiblingsMarjorie Tallchief, Jerry Tallchief


AwardsKennedy Center Honors
MoviesMillion Dollar Mermaid, Dancing for Mr. B: Six Balanchine Ballerinas, Firestone Dances: Historic Ballet Performances

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1Her father was an Osage Indian and her mother was of Scottish-Irish heritage.
2Her sister, Marjorie Tallchief, also became a ballerina, spending most of her career in Europe.
3She had her first ballet lessons in Colorado Springs. She also studied piano and ballet with local teachers in Oklahoma. She briefly considered becoming a concert pianist.
4She created the role of the "Sugar Plum Fairy" in George Balanchine's production of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's "The Nutcracker".
5She was awarded the American National Medal of the Arts in 1999 by the National Endowment of the Arts in Washington D.C.
6She was an American ballerina.
7Founded the Chicago City Ballet in 1981 and served as its artistic director (1981-1987).
8Starred with the New York City Ballet for 18 years.
9Inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame in 1996.
10Acknowledged as the most technically accomplished ballerina ever produced in America.
11Prima ballerina.
12Credits St. Exupery with her favorite quote: "If anything at all, perfection is finally attained not when there is no longer anything to add but when there is no longer anything to take away".
13Of Osage Native American blood.




Season's Greetings1953TV Movie
Million Dollar Mermaid1952Pavlova


Felia Doubrovska Remembered2008Video shortHerself
Felia Doubrovska Remembered: From Diaghilev's Ballets Russes to Balanchine's School of American Ballet2008Documentary short
Maria Tallchief2007TV Movie documentaryHerself
The Nutcracker Family: Behind the Magic2006Documentary
Ballets Russes2005DocumentaryHerself
The Kennedy Center Honors: A Celebration of the Performing Arts2000TV Special documentaryHerself
The Kennedy Center Honors: A Celebration of the Performing Arts1996TV Special documentaryHerself - Honoree
The Kennedy Center Honors: A Celebration of the Performing Arts1992TV SpecialHerself
Dancing for Mr. B: Six Balanchine Ballerinas1989DocumentaryHerself
The Bell Telephone Hour1959-1966TV SeriesHerself - Ballerina / Herself
The Dinah Shore Chevy Show1957TV SeriesHerself
Camera Three1956TV SeriesHerself Odette Odile
The Colgate Comedy Hour1954TV SeriesHerself - Ballet Dancer
The Dave Garroway Show1954TV SeriesHerself
Your Show of Shows1953TV SeriesHerself - Guest Performer
The Blue Ribbon Christmas Eve Musical1952TV MovieHerself - Ballerina
The Kate Smith Evening Hour1951TV SeriesHerself
The Ed Sullivan Show1951TV SeriesHerself
Penthouse Party1951TV SeriesHerself

Archive Footage

Mia, a Dancer's Journey2014TV Movie documentaryHerself

Source: IMDb, Wikipedia

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