Yvonne Chouteau

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Yvonne Chouteau
Myra Yvonne Chouteau

March 7, 1929
DiedJanuary 24, 2016(2016-01-24) (aged 86)
NationalityShawnee Tribe (American)
EducationSchool of American Ballet
Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo
Known forBallet
AwardsNational Cultural Treasures Award
Oklahoma Hall of Fame

Myra Yvonne Chouteau (March 7, 1929 – January 24, 2016) was one of the "Five Moons" or Native prima ballerinas of Oklahoma. She was the only child of Col. Corbett Edward and Lucy Arnett Chouteau. She was born March 7, 1929 in Fort Worth, Texas. In 1943, she became the youngest dancer ever accepted to the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, where she worked for fourteen years, In 1962, she and her husband, Miguel Terekhov, founded the first fully accredited university dance program in the United States, the School of Dance at the University of Oklahoma.[1] A member of the Shawnee Tribe, she is also of ethnic French ancestry, the great-great-great-granddaughter of Maj. Jean Pierre Chouteau. From the Chouteau family of St. Louis, he established Oklahoma's oldest European-American settlement, at the present site of Salina, in 1796.[2] She grew up in Vinita, Oklahoma.[3]


Chouteau was born in Fort Worth, Texas on March 7, 1929.[3][2] Inspired to dance at age four after seeing the great ballerina Alexandra Danilova dance in Oklahoma City, Chouteau studied at the School of American Ballet in New York before Danilova recommended her in 1943 to Serge Denham for the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. At 14, she was the youngest dancer ever accepted.[4] Her first solo role was as Prayer in Coppelia. (1945). At age 18, she was the youngest member inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame.

In 1956, Chouteau married dancer Miguel Terekhov. After they had their first child, they moved to Oklahoma City to live.[5] Together they organized the Oklahoma City Civic Ballet (now Oklahoma City Ballet). In 1962, they established the first fully accredited dance department in the United States at the University of Oklahoma at Norman, Oklahoma.[6] She was featured in Ballets Russes, a documentary film by Dayna Goldfine and Dan Geller that premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2005.[7][8] She died after a long illness on January 24, 2016.[9] During her career, she worked with such noted choreographers as George Balanchine, Leonide Massine, Antony Tudor, Agnes de Mille, and Bronislav Nijinska.[2]

Legacy and honors[edit]

Governor Frank Keating designated her an Oklahoma Treasure on October 8, 1997.[10] She is portrayed in the mural Flight of Spirit, by Chickasaw artist Mike Larsen in the Oklahoma Capitol Rotunda, and in The Five Moons, a set of bronze sculptures by artist Gary Henson on the west lawn of the Tulsa Historical Society.[11]

When the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of the American Indian opened in Washington D.C. in 2004, Chouteau was honored with the inaugural National Cultural Treasures Award, celebrating her contribution to the nation's cultural heritage.[12]

Further reading[edit]

  • Brittan, Shawnee; Champlin, Joanna M; Bingham, Drake (2000). En pointe : the lives and legacies of ballet's Native Americans. [Videorecording]


  1. ^ Anderson, Jack (2012-01-09). "Miguel Terekhov, Dancer With Ballets Russes, Dies at 83". New York Times. Retrieved 2011-01-28.
  2. ^ a b c Vincent, Melissa. "Chouteau, Myra Yvonne (1929-2016 )" Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History & Culture. Archived 2009-08-04 at the Wayback Machine 2009. Accessed February 2, 2009.
  3. ^ a b Livingston, Lili Cockerille. American Indian Ballerinas. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1999: 56.
  4. ^ "Tulsa People, The Indian Ballerinas, May 2007". Tulsapeople-digital.com. Retrieved 2008-05-26.
  5. ^ DeLeon, Jenefar. "Five Indian Ballerinas." NewsOK. Accessed August 28, 2016.
  6. ^ "Revolver Group - Balle Russe". Archived from the original on 2007-12-28. Retrieved 2008-05-26.
  7. ^ "Zeitgeist Films" (PDF). Zeitgeistfilms.com. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2008-07-24. Retrieved 2008-05-26.
  8. ^ Foundas, Scott (2005-02-17). "Variety Feb. 17, 2005". Retrieved 2008-05-26.
  9. ^ "OU dance school founder Yvonne Chouteau dies at 86 - OUDaily.com: News". OUDaily.com. Retrieved 2016-01-27.
  10. ^ Hardy, Camille (1998). "Dance Magazine, February 1998". Dance Magazine. Retrieved 2008-05-26.
  11. ^ "Tulsa Historical Society, "Five Moons Rising"". Archived from the original on August 12, 2007. Retrieved 2008-05-26.
  12. ^ "Oklahoma Arts Council, News release, September 14, 2004". State.ok.us. Retrieved 2008-05-26.

External links[edit]