(Vic Casamento / The Washington Post)


“Above all, I wanted to be appreciated as a prima ballerina who happened to be a Native American, never as someone who was an American Indian ballerina.”


Maria Tallchief, who, while she didn’t want to be defined by her Osage roots, was also very proud of them, resisting pressure to change her name to a faux-Russian “Tallchieva.” In the obituary for the ballet superstar who died last week at 88, Sarah Halzack captures a remarkable life story spanning from an Oklahoma Indian reservation to Beverly Hills High School to Monte Carlo to a globe-trotting with first husband George Balenchine, the legendary choreographer who wed some of the best ballerinas in the business over the years. With him, she helped revive the formerly obscure “Nutcracker” into a holiday classic, as she became the defining Sugar Plum Fairy. Read this: Maria Tallchief, ballet star who was inspiration for Balenchine, dies at 88

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