Canku Ota - A Newsletter Celebrating Native America
May 6, 2000 - Issue 09

"En Pointe"


"Flight of Spirit"
Mike Larsen, artist
This mural honors Oklahoma's five renowned Indian ballerinas:
The mural hangs in the north arch of the rotundo of the State Capitol Building in Oklahoma City.

The Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian will host the world premiere of a documentary celebrating the lives and careers of five internationally-recognized Native American ballet dancers titled "En Pointe: The Lives and Legacies of Ballet's Native Americans" (2000, 60 min.). The premiere will be held on May 4, from 6 to 8 p.m., at the museum's George Gustav Heye Center, located at One Bowling Green in lower Manhattan. A public screening will be held on May 6 at 2 p.m. Admission is free.

"En Pointe," the latest documentary by award-winning producer-director Shawnee Brittan, provides a first-person account of Yvonne Chouteau (Shawnee/Cherokee), Rosella Hightower (Choctaw), Moscelyne Larkin (Shawnee/Peoria), Marjorie Tallchief (Osage), and Maria Tallchief (Osage)--all of whom were born in Oklahoma-about their early training, as well as their experiences as world-famous dancers with some of the best-known ballet companies in the history of twentieth-century dance.

The documentary is hosted by Richard Thomas, best known as "John Boy" in television's "The Waltons," who also can be seen in the movie "Wonder Boys." The film was executive produced by Joanna M. Champlin, and co-produced and written by Drake Bingham.

In attendance at a reception following the premiere will be MarjorieTallchief, Moscelyne Larkin, Sen. Enoch Kelly Haney, NMAI Director W. Richard West, and the filmmakers.

The Heye Center is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and on Thursday's until 8 p.m. Admission is free. For more information, check the museum's homepage at, or call the 24-hour public program line at (212) 514-3888.

Learn more about ballet at this site
Ballet, form of theatrical dance that began to evolve in Western Europe during the Renaissance (1300-1600).

State Remembers Five Treasures

Some days were made for legends and legendary figures.

One of those days was Oct. 8, 1997 when Oklahoma's five most noted American-Indian ballerinas met at the Oklahoma Capitol to receive yet another distinguished award to add to their collection of honors.

These artistically accomplished and internationally acclaimed women now join the elite list of individuals who have received recognition as Oklahoma Treasures.

Yvonne Chouteau, Rosella Hightower, Moscelyne Larkin, Maria Tallchief and Marjorie Tallchief deserve our reverence, a ballet term for a deep bow of respect.

Such is the stature of these accomplished women that one is easily awed by their presence.

The very fact that they all made it to the top of their careers in a most demanding performing art form is reason enough for awe.

But as masters "assoluta" of ballet, each transcended the age of mastery in unique ways that continue to serve as links in ballet history.

Their contributions to dance are "the breath of life made visible," to quote an old American-Indian saying.

Depicted in the "Flight of Spirit" mural that hangs at the capitol, these dancers were reunited for the first time since the mural's 1991 dedication.

Yvonne Chouteau, ballerina and founding Director of Ballet Oklahoma, Oklahoma City.
Rosella Hightower, world-renouned ballerina, founder of internationally acclaimed "Centre de Danse International" in Cannes.
Moscelyne Larkin, ballerina, co-founder Tulsa Ballet Theater. Tulsa.
Maria Tallchief-Paschen, prima ballerina, with sister, Marjorie, founded Chicago City Ballet in 1980. Jan. 24, 1925, Fairfax.
Marjorie Tallchief. Ballerina. Born Denver, 1926, early years, Fairfax.

back to the What's New page

Canku Ota is a free Newsletter celebrating Native America, its traditions and accomplishments . We do not provide subscriber or visitor names to anyone. Some articles presented in Canku Ota may contain copyright material. We have received appropriate permissions for republishing any articles. Material appearing here is distributed without profit or monetary gain to those who have expressed an interest. This is in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107.

Canku Ota is a copyright of Vicki Lockard and Paul Barry.

The "Canku Ota - A Newsletter Celebrating Native America" web site and its design is the Copyright © 1999 of Paul C. Barry. All Rights Reserved.