The OU School of Dance announced on Tuesday two new scholarships for this fall in honor of Osage ballerinas Maria and Marjorie Tallchief.
In a press release, Michael Bearden, director of the OU School of Dance, said the scholarships of $40,000 each were set up through the OU Foundation and the School of Dance. Priority for the scholarships will be given to Native American students or students with demonstrated socioeconomic disadvantages.
The press release said Maria Tallchief kick-started her career in 1949 when she starred in George Balanchine’s “Firebird.” She also starred in “The Nutcracker,” “Orpheus,” “Scotch Symphony” and more.
Maria Tallchief was the first American to dance at Moscow’s Bolshoi Theater and the first American to dance with the Paris Opera Ballet, according to the release. She later served as an artistic director for the Lyric Opera Ballet in Chicago and founded the Chicago City Ballet.
Maria Tallchief was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame, received a National Medal of Arts and, in 1996, she was one of five recipients of the Kennedy Center Honors award for lifetime achievement for her contribution to American culture. After she died in 2013, she was inducted into the National Native American Hall of Fame.
The release said Marjorie Tallchief, Maria’s younger sister, danced for several companies, including the American Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, Grand Ballet du Marquis de Cuevas, Ruth Page’s Chicago Opera Ballet and the Harkness Ballet. Her most acclaimed roles were performed in “Night Shadow,” “Annabel Lee,” “Idylle,” “Romeo and Juliet” and “Giselle.”
Marjorie Tallchief later served as the director for multiple ballet academies in Texas, Illinois and Florida. According to the release, she was inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame and featured in a mural in the Great Rotunda at the Oklahoma Capitol. In 1992, OU presented her with the distinguished service award.
“It was very important to me that I first share the news with (Osage Nation Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear) as I am excited to announce two new scholarships at the OU School of Dance,” Bearden said in the release. “The Marjorie Tallchief Endowed Scholarship and the Maria Tallchief Endowed Scholarship have been established to provide … financial support at a time when it is so crucially needed.”