Maria Tallchief, shown here when she was a prima ballerina of the New York City Ballet, May 1954 (AP)
CHICAGO (AP) - Legendary New York City Ballet prima ballerina Maria Tallchief has died at age 88.
Tallchief's daughter, Elise Paschen, said Friday that her mother died Thursday in Chicago. Tallchief joined the company that would become the New York City Ballet in 1948. She was married for a time to George Balanchine, who founded the School of American Ballet in New York. Tallchief worked with Balanchine on such masterpieces as 1949's "Firebird" and his now-historic version of "The Nutcracker."
Tallchief was one of five Oklahoma natives of American Indian descent who rose to prominence in the ballet world from the 1940s through the 1960s. She retired in 1965, when she started teaching the next generation of dancers. She worked with the Chicago Lyric Opera Ballet and founded the Chicago City Ballet.