Tallchief, Marjorie (1927—)

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Tallchief, Marjorie (1927—)

Osage Native American prima ballerina, noted for her romantic dance style, who became a co-founder of the Chicago City Ballet. Name variations: Marjorie Tall Chief; Marjorie Skibine. Born in Denver, Colorado, in 1927; daughter of Alexander Tall Chief (a real estate investor) and Ruth (Porter) Tall Chief; sister of Maria Tallchief (b. 1925); married George Skibine (a dancer), in 1947; children: Alex and George.

Danced with the Los Angeles Civic Opera Ballet, Ballet Theater, Original Ballet Russe, Grand Ballet du Marquis de Cuevas, Paris Opera, and the Ruth Page Chicago Opera Ballet; joined sister Maria Tallchief to co-found the Chicago City Ballet (1980); commemorated for lifetime achievement by President Bill Clinton at the Kennedy Center Honors (1996).

Marjorie Tallchief was born in Denver, Colorado, in 1927, the daughter of Alexander Tall Chief and Ruth Porter Tall Chief . As a girl, she loved acrobatic dancing so much that her mother feared she would become a circus trapeze artist. More lighthearted than her sister Maria Tallchief , Marjorie was less intense about pursuing a dance career, but she studied with the famous choreographer Bronislava Nijinska and danced with professional companies in Los Angeles during high school. In 1944, she became a member of the Ballet Theater in New York; while there, she received many invitations to dance in Broadway and Hollywood productions. She moved to Paris in 1947 to join the Grand Ballet du Marquis de Cuevas, and that July married her dance partner George Skibine. The couple would have two sons, Alex and George. Tallchief was a featured dancer of the Paris Opera from 1957 to 1962. She then danced in America with Ruth Page 's Chicago Opera Ballet and the Harkness Ballet before retiring in 1966 to take up dance teaching in Dallas, Texas. In 1980, she joined her sister Maria in co-founding the Chicago City Ballet. Wrote Olga Maynard , Marjorie Tallchief "was the personification of the pellucid classical style."

Margaret L. Meggs , independent scholar, Havre, Montana

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Tallchief, Marjorie (1927—)

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