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Maria Tallchief appears 5/10/08 at 3 PM at Chicago film premiere

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Listening to NPR station WBEZ this morning, I learned of the local premiere of the recent hour-long documentary of Maria Tallchief (shown last year on PBS) at the Gene Siskel Film Center, 164 N. State Street, Chicago, at 3:00 and 5:15 PM, on Saturday; the earlier time will include her appearance, which may well be the treat it's been for me the two previous times I've seen her speak:

At the Ravinia Festival several years ago, she took questions from the audience after a discussion with Gerald Arpino, and some one asked her whether she had ever experienced discrimination because she was Native American. "Oh, no," she said, "Daddy was very rich."

At the 2005 Kennedy Center Honors program, walking onstage on the arm of Arthur Mitchell, she gave some nicely prepared remarks in tribute to one of the honorees, Suzanne Farrell, and then apparently ad-libbed some really fulsome praise for the performance of Farrell's dancers she had seen in dress rehearsal (and whom we were about to see).

Anyway, the video is for sale now. Here's a link to page with some details, including a two-minute promotional montage of material from it:


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Many thanks for the heads up, Jack. I just ordered the DVD from the link.

Just a couple of things about ordering:

* When you click "Add to Cart" the shopping cart info and the "Go to Checkout" (not underlined) link to checkout is under the left menu. (I sat there waiting to be navigated to another page until I finally looked.)

* The country list is pretty extensive. I tested UK, and the state box disappears after the country is selected (both at the top of the page and the bottom).

* For the US there's a state field and a drop-down box for state.

* Tax is calculated for Washington residents only. The 6.5% on the website wasn't the amount calculated and charged in:

* PayPal, which is the only available payment method.

* Shipping and Handling is $5 in both the US and UK, but doesn't appear until the PayPal intro page.

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I went to the 3:00 PM showing of "Maria Tallchief" to hear what Ms. Tallchief and others would have to say. After the showing, she and Sandy Ozawa, the film's producer, spoke briefly and took some questions, and I got some of this into my notes:

Maria Tallchief: I want to thank Sandy. I think she did a fantastic job. It's good for people to see how NYCB began, and [referring to something she said in the film] not by slapping our fannies either [audience laughter] but because of the genius of George Balanchine. Thank you.

Elise Paschen, Tallchief's daughter, read her entire "Orpheus" poem, some of which was heard in the documentary, which drew a parallel between the Orpheus-and-Euridice story and the Balanchine-and-Tallchief story. Then she read another based on watching her mother perform the title role in Pieter van Dyke's Cinderella, in Hamburg, when two doves perched on Tallchief's shoulders as she reclined, as we had seen in the film.

Sandy Ozawa told us the Lincoln Kirstein passport photo shown in the film is from the passport he used to go to Europe and bring back Balanchine. ... The project was delayed by [stereotyping]. Tallchief was not a spirit of the woods, like Pocahontas, or a beast of burden. A ballerina? There were no funds. ... Ozawa would like to extend the dances excerpted in the film, and make the whole film longer, a theatre edition. We had to have a length of 56:40. There is a Sylvia film, but we could only show a montage from it; we would do more, but we need a donation.

Q: Miss Tallchief, do you have anything to do with the Joffrey Ballet? MT: I have nothing to do with the Joffrey Ballet.

Q: Is there any parallel today with President Kennedy's interest in art? [The film had excerpted Kennedy's speech, including, as I recognised them, the words heard at the beginning of the annual Kennedy Center Honors television broadcast.] SO [i'm not sure now, only a day later, who answered, whether it was Ozawa or Paschen]: Obama recently mentioned it, and his daughter was in von Heidecke's Nutcracker at the Harris [Theatre]

Q: What about dancers today? MT: ... Ken von Heidecke's Festival Ballet. My grand-daughter's in it. I'm not so sure how much she likes it. ... The spirit is going on.

Q: Could we see more of Maria Tallchief teaching? MT: I don't teach.

Q: Will Miss Tallchief autograph DVD's in the lobby? SO: I think Maria has to get back. MT: I have time.

I would say that, at 83, Maria Tallchief is as unperturbably outspoken as ever, not to mention as erect in carriage, if, finally, a little slower on her feet.

I would also say of the dancing shown in the film that the view often looks cropped, with feet and tops of heads cut off, so that we are more aware of the interference between us and the dance of the picture frame, although I have to add that I'm not familiar with the original material, which may already be this way, and that there are a number of sequences which are quite satisfying because they are free of this; we see the dancer(s) in their performance space, without obstruction.

I hope those who are familiar with any of the historical material will comment on its use here, especially in regard to any additional cropping. (We don't see this in the promotional montage, so it may not have been the film-makers' choice.)

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