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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


October 19, 2002 - Issue 72


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OU School to Honor Indian Ballerinas

credits:"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.

This mural honors Oklahoma's five renowned Indian ballerinas

NORMAN, OK - The University of Oklahoma School of Dance, in partnership with the American Indian Cultural Society, is hosting a series of events to honor the five American Indian ballerinas -- Yvonne Chouteau, Rosella Hightower, Moscelyne Larkin, Maria Tallchief, and Marjorie Tallchief.

On Oct. 25, the School of Dance and AICS invite young audiences (ages six and older) to a screening of "En Pointe," a film about the five ballerinas, at 4:30 p.m. in the Fine Arts Center, room 119. A private dinner and performance will follow the screening.

On Oct. 26, 2002, from 2:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m., AICS will give their Tenth Anniversary Intertribal Fall Gourd Dance at the Cleveland County Fairgrounds and honor the American Indian Ballerinas.

At all events, participants will have the opportunity to meet two of the ballerinas, Yvonne Chouteau and Marjorie Tallchief.

Yvonne Chouteau has a special connection with the School of Dance at the University of Oklahoma. She and her husband Miguel Terekhov, at the request of former OU President George Lynn Cross, became guest artists-in-residence at the University in 1961. Together they founded and developed the dance school.

Yvonne Chouteau was born in Vinita, OK, and is of Cherokee ancestry. She began her ballet career at age 14 and was the youngest American ever to become a member of the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. Attaining the rank of principal dancer in "Romeo and Juliet," she has worked with such world-renowned choreographers as Massine, Nijinska, Tudor and Balanchine.

Yvonne Chouteau has been inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame and has honorary degrees from both the University of Oklahoma and Phillips University. She has also been awarded both the Distinguished Merit Award by the University of Oklahoma and the State of Oklahoma Governor's Arts Award.

Marjorie Tallchief was born in Osage County, and she first studied ballet in Fairfax, OK. Early in her life, her family moved to Los Angeles where she began her serious ballet training under the tutelage of Bronislava Nijinska and David Lichine.

While still in her teens, she became a soloist with the American Ballet Theatre and at 19 became a ballerina with the Grand Ballet of the Marquis de Cuevas.

Tallchief was the first American to become Premiere Dansuese Etoile of the Paris Opera and was the first American to dance at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow.

She is known as one of the most versatile of the great ballerinas and has danced both traditional classics and contemporary repertoires.

In 1965, she became a guest artist with the Harkness Ballet Company and later began working as a freelance artist.

Betty Kemp, president of AICS, says that "Chouteau, Hightower, Larkin and Tallchief are names which conjure visions of elegant figures in the graceful movements of classical ballet and of the dance of a vastly different native culture. Five young women, from rural Oklahoma with American Indian heritage, individually and collectively achieved international acclaim and recognition. It is almost impossible to give them enough laud and honor for their accomplishments and influence in the world of dance."

The School of Dance is in partnership with the American Indian Cultural Society to honor these artists.

In addition to hosting these events, the School of Dance developed the Indian Ballerina Scholarship Endowment in 2001 in honor of the ballerinas.

For more information about the School of Dance and AICS events or about the Indian Ballerina Scholarship Endowment, call Ashley Paige Williams 325-8099 or 325- 4051.

"En Pointe"

Norman, OK MAP
Maps by Travel

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