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University Of Oklahoma Names Two Scholarships After Tallchief Sisters

The University of Oklahoma announced two new dance scholarships in honor of Osage ballerinas Maria and Marjorie Tallchief, considered to be two of the greatest dancers of the 20th century.

Maria catapulted to success after performing in George Balanchine's "The Firebird" in 1949 in New York City.

"And the curtain came down and suddenly the city center sounded like a stadium after a football game after somebody's made a touchdown. It was unbelievable. Screaming, yells of Bravo, this and that," Tallchief said in a 1989 interview about the performance. "You know, nobody practiced any bows. We didn't know who was supposed to bow or when we were supposed to bow."

Maria was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame and the National Native American Hall of Fame posthumously in 2018. She died in 2013.

Her younger sister Marjorie, was the first Native American to become the "première danseuse étoile" in the Paris Opera Ballet. Some of her most acclaimed roles included "Romeo and Juliet" and "Giselle."

Both sisters grew up in Fairfax, Oklahoma near Gray Horse Village.

The scholarships are for $40,000 each, given through the OU School of Dance. Priority will be given to Native American students and those with socioeconomic disadvantages.

Allison Herrera covered Indigenous Affairs for KOSU from April 2020 to November 2023.
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