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Marjorie Tallchief (born October 19, 1926) is a former ballerina of the Osage Nation. She is the younger sister of the late prima ballerina, Maria Tallchief, and was the first Native American to be named "première danseuse étoile" in the Paris Opera Ballet.[1][2]

Marjorie Tallchief
Marjorie Tallchief, head-and-shoulders portrait, facing front.jpg
Marjorie Tallchief in 1956
Marjorie Louise Tall Chief

(1926-10-19) October 19, 1926 (age 92)
Former groupsParis Opera Ballet


Early lifeEdit

Marjorie Louise Tall Chief was born October 19, 1926 [2] in Denver, Colorado while her parents, Alexander Tall Chief and his wife, Ruth (née Porter), were on a family vacation with her older siblings, brother Gerald and sister Maria. She grew up in Fairfax, Oklahoma until 1933, when her family moved to Los Angeles so she and her sister could train in ballet dancing. She trained with Bronislava Nijinska and David Lichine.[1][2]


After completing her training in Los Angeles, Marjorie began performing for several dance companies. In the book American Indian Ballerinas, Lili Cockerille Livingston wrote that Marjorie Tallchief had her professional debut with Lucia Chase and Richard Pleasant's Ballet Theatre as a first year soloist, in 1944. According to the Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, these included: "the American Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo (1946-47), the Grand Ballet du Marquis de Cuevas (1948-55), Ruth Page's Chicago Opera Ballet (guest artist, 1958-62), and the Harkness Ballet (prima ballerina, 1964-66). Her most acclaimed roles were performed in Night Shadow (1950), Annabel Lee (1951), Idylle (1954), Romeo and Juliet (1955), and Giselle (1957)."

She was the first Native American to be "première danseuse étoile" of the Paris Opera Ballet and performed with the Grand Ballet du Marquis de Cuevas. [3] During her career she also performed for dignitaries such as U.S. Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, and French President Charles de Gaulle. Marjorie taught at Dallas Civic Ballet Academy, later known as the Dallas Ballet.[4] After her retirement from the stage, she acted as a dance director for the Dallas Ballet, the Chicago Ballet School, and the Harid Conservatory until 1993.[3][5]


In 1991, she was inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame. In October 1997, she and her elder sister Maria, along with Moscelyne Larkin, Rosella Hightower, and Yvonne Chouteau, were named Oklahoma Treasures at the Governor's Arts Awards.[6]

Personal lifeEdit

She had two children with her husband, the late director and choreographer George Skibine, and currently lives in Boca Raton, Florida.[2]


  1. ^ a b Short, Candy Franklin. Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture. "Marjorie Tallchief." Retrieved December 9, 2012.
  2. ^ a b c d Profile of Marjorie Tallchief, Oklahoma State University library archives Archived 2008-08-29 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ a b "The first step 32 students start dance training at Harid Conservatory..." Boca Raton News. September 13, 1988. Retrieved September 16, 2009.
  4. ^ 1945-, Livingston, Lili Cockerille, (1997). American Indian ballerinas. Norman, Okla.: University of Oklahoma Press. ISBN 0806128968. OCLC 44965168.
  5. ^ "Breathing life through dance". Tulsa World. July 15, 2007. Retrieved September 16, 2009.
  6. ^ "Oklahoma's Indian Ballerinas To Be Honored as Treasures". Tulsa World. October 8, 1997. Retrieved September 16, 2009.