Famous ballerina Marjorie Tallchief has died aged 95
Marjorie Tallchief, an American ballerina who became an acclaimed international star with major companies in France and the United States in the 1950s, died on November 30 at her home in Delray Beach, Florida. She was 95 years old.
Her death was confirmed by her granddaughter Nathalie Skibine.
Ms. Tallchief has often been identified by critics and reference books as the younger sister of Maria Tallchief, one of George Balanchine’s principal ballerinas at the New York City Ballet. But she had her own distinct identity as a versatile dancer who excelled in various ballets, from 19th century classics and works by Balanchine to experimental dances with a poetic tint that were fashionable in France, where she danced with two companies. in the 1940s and 1950s.
From 1957 to 1962 she danced with the Paris Opera Ballet, which invited her to join it as principal regular when her husband, George Skibine, joined her as ballet director and choreographer. .
Although the Tallchief sisters pursued independent careers in separate businesses, they remained close and both publicly proclaimed pride in their Native American heritage as members of the Osage Nation. The state of Oklahoma has honored them with several official tributes over the years.
Although Maria is more familiar to American audiences due to her connections to the New York City Ballet, Marjorie danced early in her career with the Ballet Theater (which later became the American Ballet Theater) and performed regularly in New York for a decade, from 1947 to 1956, with the visit of the Grand Ballet of the Marquis de Cuevas of France and Monaco.
French critic Irene Lidova summed her up in a 1950 appraisal as “a brilliant and dynamic dancer with a slender and flexible body”, adding: “By her almost acrobatic virtuosity, she embodies the perfect dancer for our time.
New York Times dance critic John Martin also noted that the quality rationalized when the Cuevas Company revived Bronislava Nijinska’s famous avant-garde ballet, “Le Train Bleu”, that year. Highlighting Ms Tallchief’s performance as an androgynous young lady in blue, he wrote: “She makes the girl in the tunic a stunning figure,” adding that she has also maintained “the crisp, crisp style of the design of the choreography”.
Years later, Ms. Tallchief appeared as a guest ballerina with Ruth Page’s Chicago Opera Ballet and the Harkness Ballet.
Marjorie Louise Tall Chief was born on October 19, 1926, 21 months after her sister, in Denver, where her parents were on brief vacation. (She and her sister joined their last names when they started dancing professionally.)
Their father, Osage Nation member Alexander Joseph Tall Chief, lived off his share of the oil revenues that had been negotiated with the federal government after the discovery of oil on the Osage Reserve in Fairfax, Okla. Their mother, Ruth (Porter) Tall Chief, a housewife of Scottish-Irish descent, encouraged the girls to study ballet and moved the family to Beverly Hills, Calif., In search of more professional ballet teachers. .
Thanks to the wealth of their oil income, the family led a comfortable life. The girls studied ballet with two well-known teachers: Ernest Belcher; and David Lichine, the choreographer and dancer married to one of Balanchine’s original âbaby ballerinasâ, Tatiana Riabouchinska. Their greatest teacher was Mrs. Nijinska, the sister of Vaslav Nijinsky and herself a famous choreographer and dancer of Serge Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes.
As critic Jack Anderson recalled recently, Ms. Nijinska told him in California that she had advised the sisters never to dance in the same company “because each would cancel the other.”
Maria Tallchief died in 2013. Majorie Tallchief is survived by her sons, Alexander and George Skibine, and four grandchildren.