New Coins Honor Legacy of Maria Tallchief
A Tempo this week features a conversation with Tallchief’s daughter about the ballerina’s legacy, and the significance of the coins’ release to the Osage Nation, of which Tallchief was a member.
Two of the latest coins issued by the U.S. Mint feature the likeness of ballerina Maria Tallchief, the first American - and Native American - Prima Ballerina. Tallchief first gained fame with the Ballet Russes de Monte Carlo, and then with New York City Ballet, founded by George Balanchine, to whom she was once married.
Last Spring, the Mint released a $1 coin with an image of Tallchief, her sister, Marjorie, and three other Native American dancers known collectively as the “Five Moons.” A new quarter issued last month shows Tallchief mid-jeté, with her Osage name written below in Osage orthography. The coins have been a source of pride for the Osage Nation, and for Tallchief’s family, and A Tempo host Rachel Katz this week speaks with the dancer’s daughter, poet Elise Paschen. Several events have marked the release, including one in Tulsa, Oklahoma last month, and one Nov. 11 at Lyric Opera of Chicago, where Tallchief served as ballet director later in her career.