Marjorie Tallchief

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Marjorie Tallchief
Marjorie Tallchief, head-and-shoulders portrait, facing front.jpg
Marjorie Tallchief in 1956
Born Marjorie Louise Tall Chief
(1926-10-19) October 19, 1926 (age 88)
Denver, Colorado, U.S.
Occupation Ballerina
Former groups Paris Opera Ballet

Marjorie Tallchief (born October 19, 1926) is a former ballerina of the Osage Nation. She is the younger sister of the late prima ballerina, Maria Tallchief, and was the first Native American to be named "première danseuse étoile " in the Paris Opera Ballet.[1][2]

Early life[edit]

Marjorie Louise Tall Chief was born October 19, 1926,[2] in Denver, Colorado while her parents, Alexander Tall Chief and his wife, Ruth (née Porter), were on a family vacation with her older siblings, brother Gerald and sister Maria. She grew up in Fairfax, Oklahoma until 1933, when her family moved to Los Angeles so she and her sister could train in ballet dancing. She trained with Bronislava Nijinska and David Lichine.[1][2]


After completing her training in Los Angeles, Marjorie began performing for several dance companies. In the book, American Indian Ballerinas, Lili Cockerille Livingston wrote that Marjorie Tallchief had her professional debut with Lucia Chase and Richard Pleasant's Ballet Theatre as a first year soloist, in 1944. According to the Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, these included: "... the American Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo (1946-47), the Grand Ballet du Marquis de Cuevas (1948-55), Ruth Page's Chicago Opera Ballet (guest artist, 1958-62), and the Harkness Ballet (prima ballerina, 1964-66). Her most acclaimed roles were performed in Night Shadow (1950), Annabel Lee (1951), Idylle (1954), Romeo and Juliet (1955), and Giselle (1957)."[1]

She was the first Native American to be "première danseuse étoile" of the Paris Opera Ballet and performed with the Grand Ballet du Marquis de Cuevas.[3] During her career she also performed for politicians such as U.S. Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, and foreign dignitaries such as Charles de Gaulle. After her retirement from the stage, she acted as a dance director for the Dallas Ballet, the Chicago Ballet School and the Harid Conservatory until 1993.[3][4]


In 1991, she was inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame. In October 1997, she and her elder sister Maria, along with Moscelyne Larkin, Rosella Hightower, and Yvonne Chouteau, were named Oklahoma Treasures at the Governor's Arts Awards.[5]

Personal life[edit]

She had two children with her husband, the late director and choreographer George Skibine, and currently lives in Boca Raton, Florida.[2]