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Friday, April 12


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Maria Tallchief is dead at age 88.

The Chicago Tribune

At 15, she made her debut: "Chopin Concerto," which she danced in the Hollywood Bowl with another talented youngster, Cyd Charisse. To her chagrin, young Tall Chief slipped. But Nijinska shrugged it off, noting "Happens to everybody.'' But for that, the evening was considered promising.

In 1942, Maria, a grave, almost dreamy child, with what some called "a touching dignity,'' graduated from Beverly Hills High School. She also danced in the corps de ballet of an MGM musical, "Presenting Lily Mars." That summer, an old family friend, Tatiana Riabouchinska, wife of choreographer David Lichine, wondered if Maria would like to go to New York?

The New York Times

A daughter of an Osage Indian father and a Scottish-Irish mother, and the sister of another noted ballerina, Marjorie Tallchief, Ms. Tallchief left Oklahoma at an early age, but she was long associated with the region nevertheless. She was one five dancers of Indian heritage, all born in Oklahoma at roughly the same time, who came to be called the Oklahoma Indian ballerinas; the others included her sister and Rosella Hightower, Moscelyne Larkin and Yvonne Chouteau.

The Washington Post

Although she retired from the stage, Maria Tallchief remained committed to dance. She founded the School of the Lyric Opera in 1974 in Chicago, where she taught the Balanchine technique. She launched the Chicago City Ballet in 1980, which collapsed less than a decade later.
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More on Tallchief.

The Chicago Sun-Times

In 1954, while on tour with Ballet Russe, Tallchief reportedly made $2,000 per week and was the highest-paid prima ballerina of that time. She subsequently met Chicago builder Henry “Buzz” Paschen, who she married in 1956. He died in 2004. Their daughter, Elise Maria Paschen, is an acclaimed poet.

Gallery of video links.

...Ms. Tallchief, a former wife and muse of the choreographer George Balanchine, was known for dazzling audiences with her speed, energy and fire.

Crain's Chicago Business

...... It [Chicago City Ballet] folded six years later when she and her husband clashed with the board over a contract renewal for a co-artistic director.

Mr. Paschen, who died in 2004, was sentenced in 1999 to two years in prison for income-tax evasion.

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A preview of New Jersey Ballet's fundraising gala by Robert Johnson in The Star-Ledger.

Company founder and director Carolyn Clark says the West Point Band had so much fun playing for the ballet company’s gala last year that they requested an encore. Kinney’s new piece is abstract, but takes its inspiration from an incident during the Civil War when insurgents ambushed a Union expedition.
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Nikolai Tsiskaridze gets a partial win in his legal dispute with the Bolshoi.

Tverskoi District Court Judge Yevgeny Komissarov today agreed to overturn one of two reprimands Tsiskaridze received for giving unauthorized interviews. Both sides said they plan to appeal. Tsiskaridze has said that he is in danger of being fired unless the court expunges the two disciplinary warnings from the Bolshoi.


The theatre filed two reprimands against Tsiskaridze for giving unauthorised interviews in the wake of the attack. In one

interview he said he had nothing to do with the attack, and the court annulled the reprimand in that case. In the other

interview, he accused management of conducting a public campaign to discredit him, and the court left that reprimand in force.

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A CNN story on the Bolshoi drama.

Iksanov, the general director, says the attack is the result of a lawless atmosphere within the dance company he says has been created by Tsiskaridze.

But Tsiskaridze says Iksanov has been trying to get rid of him ever since he criticized the Bolshoi Theater's $760 million renovation.

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Obituary for Tallchief from the Indian Country Today Media Network.

Oil was discovered on Osage land when her father was a boy so he received headright payments from that. He owned the local movie theater and pool hall. Their 10-room home “stood high on a hill overlooking the reservation,” she says in the book.

Ruth had Maria in piano and dance lessons at 3 and Marjorie began lessons soon after. The two would perform together locally.

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A feature on Michaela DePrince, with several photos.

She is currently the youngest member of the Dance Theater of Harlem and made her professional debut last year in Le Corsaire at the Johannesburg Theatre in South Africa.

Michaela - who was then called Mabinty Bangura - was born in 1995 in the midst of Sierra Leone’s 11-year civil war, which claimed more than 75,000 lives.

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An obituary for Tallchief by James D. Watts Jr. for Tulsa World.

Tallchief’s death comes almost a year to the day after the death of Tulsa Ballet co-founder Moscelyne Larkin. Rosella Hightower died in 2008. Marjorie Tallchief, Maria’s younger sister, and Yvonne Chouteau are the two surviving Oklahoma Indian Ballerinas.

The five women were named Oklahoma Treasures in 1997, and have been immortalized in a mural by Mike Larsen on permanent display in the Oklahoma Capitol as well as a quintet of bronze statues by Gary Henson on the lawn of the Tulsa Historical Society.

An appreciation/obit by Howard Chua-Eoan for TIME.

Ballet is a series of the strictest, most rigid disciplines invented to portray ultimate suppleness and effortless musicality. And of all the ballerinas of the last century, few achieved Maria Tallchief’s artistry, a kind of conscious dreaming, a reverie with backbone.
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And more:

The Wall Street Journal

Ms. Tallchief died in Chicago on April 11 at age 88 from complications after suffering a broken hip, according to her daughter on Friday.

The Los Angeles Times

Tallchief, who received her early ballet training in Los Angeles, would perform with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, a leading company of the day, from 1942 to 1947. But her career was most closely linked with the New York City Ballet, the company Balanchine co-founded in 1948 and which became known for his groundbreaking, contemporary choreography and the sleek athleticism of its dancers.

BAM's Blog

Along with her younger sister Marjorie, Maria Tallchief was one of five Oklahoma natives of American Indian descent who rose to prominence in the ballet world from the 1940s through the 1960s......

Oklahoma artist Mike Larsen, who is of Chickasaw descent, has immortalized the five ballerinas in the mural “Flight of Spirit,” which adorns the state Capitol rotunda.

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A reprint of an Arlene Croce piece from 1996 on the Tallchief phenomenon in The New Yorker.

Tallchief… has a golden niche all her own in the pantheon of American ballet: she didn’t just rise to the occasion—she was the occasion. Balanchine had been struggling in this country since the early thirties to prove that classical ballet was an American birthright. What dancer could make a better case for him than Tallchief, the daughter of a full-blooded Osage Indian from Oklahoma, where the wind comes sweepin’ down the plain?
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Reviews of Dance Theatre of Harlem.

The Financial Times

It began with the neoclassicism: Agon, which Balanchine made on Arthur Mitchell in 1957, 12 years before the star dancer founded the Harlem troupe. In its musical knottiness, insouciant spirit and steps twisted and pulled like taffy, the Stravinsky ballet requires a steady diet of Balanchine modernism to master. These highly professional dancers approached it with understandable bewilderment.


The DTH budget, unfortunately, doesn't allow for an orchestra, so "Agon" was danced to a recording, not identified in the program. A recording, with its set rhythms, tends to flatten performances, since there is no room for subtle changes, but it looked well-rehearsed and the shapes were clear. (It was set by Richard Tanner.) ...... The famous pas de deux, danced by Gabrielle Salvatto and Fredrick Davis, was also a bit too audience-directed, but Salvatto's long, elegant legs and Davis's dignified reticence were very effective. The dancers moved with an urgency and sweep, which, while not always neat, was lively and appealing.
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The Birmingham Royal Ballet announces its lineup for the 2013-14 season.

In February, BRB will perform Three of a Kind (February 19-22), three pieces from a trio of revered choreographers John Cranko, George Balanchine and Kenneth MacMillan.

A highlight of the season will be a UK premiere of Bintley’s production of Benjamin Britten’s only commissioned ballet score, The Prince Of The Pagodas (February 25-March 1).

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A preview of the week in dance by Judith Mackrell in The Guardian.

It's over a quarter of a century since National Ballet Of Canada last appeared in London, and the company returns with the London premiere of Alexei Ratmansky's Romeo And Juliet. In contrast to some previous mime-heavy productions, Ratmansky has

choreographed every note of the music.

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An NPR note on the death of Tallchief, with photos and video.

In an interview for The George Balanchine Trust, Tallchief described the first performance of Firebird in 1949.

"The city center sounded like a stadium after a football game, after somebody's made a touchdown," Tallchief said. Balanchine, explained Tallchief, said that her performance was the "first great success of the New York City Ballet."

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A feature on Li Cunxin by James Rose in The Houston Chronicle.

Stevenson and Li are close friends and artistic collaborators. Like all friendships, it has been challenged, especially during Li's defection. Stevenson was one of those who waited with Li when he was detained in Houston's Chinese consulate for 21 hours and who refused to leave. He admits he was shocked and initially angry about Li's decision, "It was tough. It wasn't all about Li. ... (When) Li defected, I was left with us, two weeks later, supposed to go to China, with another group (from China) coming, and so I had to deal with that.

"When we got there, we had a car, and someone painted on the side, 'We will kill you.' "

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An interview with Ty King-Wall, Australian Ballet's newest principal.

He started dance classes to keep a mate company when he was seven. The friend dropped out, but King-Wall, 26, continued at home in New Zealand.

It meant dropping hockey and gymnastics, but as soon as he saw a Royal New Zealand Ballet performance of Swan Lake he knew ballet was his future.

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A review of "First Position" by Charlotte Skeoch for The Huffington Post UK.

The competition element of the documentary does lend a frustratingly low-brow tone, as though Werner Herzog has somehow been duped into making a featurette for the Xtra Factor, but there's no denying that the will-they, won't-they final stages are sensationally thrilling, even if you have zero interest in the quality of the dancer's jetés. It does raise some questions about the nature of competitive dance: some of the young talent approach their art form like a technical exercise, eschewing artistry, emotion and subtlety for results-driven acrobatics - a subject which Kargman never pursues. Perhaps that's just another documentary for another day.
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An obituary for Eva von Gencsy, who has died at age 89.

Born in Budapest, von Gencsy immigrated to Canada in 1948 after dancing in her native Hungary and in Austria. She performed with the fledgling Winnipeg Ballet (later Royal Winnipeg Ballet) for five years, attracting new audiences to ballet with her interpretations of classical and modern roles. In 1953, she moved to Montreal to join Les Ballets Chiriaeff, which later became Les Grands Ballets Canadiens. Here again, her strong personality drew attention both on stage and in frequent television appearances.
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