“God creates, I do not create.
I assemble and I steal everywhere to do it;
from what I see, from what the dancers can do,
from what others do.”
Photo via Moma
- George Balanchine (giorgimunjishvili.wordpress.com)
A major artistic figure of the twentieth century, Balanchine revolutionized the look of classical ballet. Taking classicism as his base, he heightened, quickened, expanded, streamlined, and even inverted the fundamentals of the 400-year-old language of academic dance. This had an inestimable influence on the growth of dance in America.
Video about Balanchine and NYC Ballet
- R.I.P. Maria Tallchief, America’s 1st Native-American Prima Ballerina (goodblacknews.org)
The New York Times reports today that Maria Tallchief, daughter of an Oklahoma oil family who grew up on an Indian reservation, found her way to New York and became one of the most brilliant American ballerinas of the 20th century, died on Thursday in Chicago. She was 88. Her daughter, the poet Elise Paschen, confirmed the death. Ms. Tallchief lived in Chicago.
Ms. Tallchief, a former wife and muse to the choreographer George Balanchine, achieved renown with Balanchine’s City Ballet, dazzling audiences with her speed, energy and fire.
- The Silent Song of Maria Tallchief: America’s Prima Ballerina (1925-2013) (entertainment.time.com)
of all the ballerinas of the last century, few achieved Maria Tallchief’s artistry, a kind of conscious dreaming, a reverie with backbone. To George Balanchine, the choreographer who revolutionized ballet, she was both muse and, briefly, wife. She would admire him all her life—and help propagate his vision of dance with her own schools and students. The first Native American prima ballerina in history retired from regular performance in 1965. She died on Friday at the age of 88.
- Maria Tallchief, prima ballerina for Balanchine (philly.com)
She told Women’s Wear Daily in 2003 that when she first worked with Balanchine she thought, “‘I am seeing music. This is it!’ I was a musician myself, and I thought, ‘I am in my place now.’ I knew that that’s the way I wanted to dance.”
- Maria Tallchief dies aged 88: dancer who shone in Balanchine’s ballets (guardian.co.uk)
The critic Francis Mason wrote: “Balanchine always wanted to do it his way. I believe that the dancer who helped him most to do it his way, the dancer who with him established the reputation of the young New York City Ballet and led the public to appreciate his ballets, is Maria Tallchief.”
- Pennsylvania Ballet Presents Christopher Wheeldon And John Lithgow’s Carnival Of The Animals With Two George Balanchine Classics At The Academy Of Music, May 9-12 (uwishunu.com)
This spring, the Pennsylvania Ballet delivers five charming performances of Christopher Wheeldon’s Carnival of the Animals alongside two classic works by George Balanchine at the Academy of Music, May 9-12.
A collaborative effort that showcases contemporary choreography by Christopher Wheeldon and creative narration written by Tony and Emmy Award-winning actor John Lithgow, Carnival of the Animals — first performed by New York City Ballet in 2003 at Lincoln Center — portrays the imaginative and comedic dreams of a young boy asleep in the American Museum of Natural History. A parade of dancing animals move to a score by 20th-century French composer Camille Saint-Saens.
- Little Did You Know… (humanordancer.org)
Balanchine insisted that, before a ballet company could be formed, there needed to be a school to train dancers for the company. Thus, the School of American Ballet was formed in 1934. Balanchine choreographed on his students so they could learn about stage technique. He set it to Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings in C. “He wanted us simply to do the steps as they were created: subtle technique, controlled landings,” Sandra Jennings said to me, “Every person dances a lot in it. Usually the corps doesn’t dance as much in a ballet, but in Serenade, everyone’s working hard. Really, the corps dances more than anyone. Balanchine taught the corps how to dance, not just stand there. Every person in Serenade is individual and important.” It is wonderful to me that this ballet was created on students. Today, Serenade is one of New York City Ballet’s signature works and one of Balanchine’s most beloved masterpieces…and this beautiful masterpiece was something he bestowed upon not prima ballerinas, but pupils.
- Ballet legend Maria Tallchief dies at 88 (todayentertainment.today.com)
In 1996, the Kennedy Center honored Tallchief for her contributions to the arts.
In addition to her daughter, Tallchief also is survived by two grandchildren and her sister, another noted ballerina, Marjorie Tallchief.