Maria Tallchief - Woman of Two Worlds

Maria Tallchief

Reading Comprehension for January 24

The orchestra begins to play. The lights start to dim. A beautiful ballerina glides effortlessly onto the stage. The Sugar Plum Fairy has arrived. Her moves are magic. Each step is graceful and electrifying. The performance was the The Nutcracker by George Balanchine. The year was 1954 in New York City. The Sugar Plum Fairy was ballerina Maria Tallchief.

Maria Tallchief was born on January 24, 1925, in Fairfax, Oklahoma. Tallchief and her family lived on an Indian reservation. Her father was an Osage Indian and her mother was Irish and Scottish. Tallchief's family was wealthy and important. Her grandfather helped to negotiate a treaty with the United States. This treaty created the Osage Reservation. It also gave the Osage people the right to drill for oil on their land. Some of the people on the reservation were able to make money from drilling for oil. As you can see, success was part of Tallchief's family.

Tallchief started taking music and dancing lessons with her sister when she was four years old. When she was eight, her family decided to move away from Oklahoma. Maria's mother wanted their daughters to have more training. Tallchief and her family moved to Beverly Hills, California. She started to study with Bronislava Nijinska and David Lichine. Lichine was a student who had danced with Pavlova, a famous Russian ballerina. All of Tallchief's training paid off. She danced at the age of 15 at the Hollywood Bowl in her first solo performance. The performance was choreographed by Nijinska.

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