Maria Tallchief : America's prima ballerina

by Maria Tallchief

Other authorsLarry Kaplan (Author)
Hardcover, 1997




New York : Henry Holt, c1997.


Ballerina Maria Tallchief describes her childhood on an Osage reservation, the development of her love of dance, and her rise to success in that field.

User reviews

LibraryThing member AbigailAdams26
Narrated in the first-person, this picture-book biography sets out the story of ballerina Maria Tallchief's childhood, from her early years on an Osage Indian reservation in Oklahoma - her father was Osage, her mother Scots-Irish - through her family's move west, to an as-yet-undeveloped Los
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Angeles. The importance of music and dance, in her development, is beautifully and amply explored, as Tallchief, aided by veteran children's author Rosemary Wells, explains how it effected her - how it would "course through her body." Prompted by her father, she chose to concentrate on ballet, rather than try to pursue both ballet and piano, and studied under Madame Nijinska in L.A. The story closes as Tallchief, inspired by the skill and grace of the dancers of the Ballets Russes de Monte Carlo, leaves to study and dance in New York City...

The narrative voice in Tallchief: America's Prima Ballerina is strong, giving the reader the feeling that she is really getting a glimpse into Tallchief's heart and mind. I know very little about the history of the Osage people, so I was fascinated to learn how wealthy they were, as a result of the discovery of oil on their lands. This contrasted so sharply with the cultural oppression they experienced, as their traditional dancing and ceremonies were banned. I was also fascinated by the progression of Tallchief's studies, as she went from a small-town dance instructor who wasn't very good, to a world-class teacher like Nijinska. What a difference that must have been! Although I think I would have preferred the story to continue, and follow Tallchief as she became a ballerina, I liked what was there, and was particularly moved by her emotionally rich descriptions of what music and dance meant to her.

All in all, an engaging biography of one of America's most celebrated ballet dancers, one I recommend to all young readers who are themselves dancers, who are interested in the arts, or who just appreciate a good biography!
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LibraryThing member kwillis
A great first person narrative of one of America's most beloved ballerina's and first Native American ballerina--Maria Tallchief. The illustrations are lush and the passion Maria had for dance and music is compelling and lovingly told.
LibraryThing member Kathdavis54
This was a very short semi autobiography on Maria Tallchief. Rosemary Wells wrote this along with the ballerina. The two writers make the story of Tallchief's early life on a reservation come alive. Many young readers will find it bizarre that Tallchief as different from her peers because she
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My main issue with the book was that it ended too abruptly. I really would have loved to hear about her early times in the ballet company and what it was like to be a prima ballerina. However, the pair end the story as she boards a bus to New York to try out for a ballet company. I will look elsewhere for the rest of the story, but I wish I didn't have to.
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LibraryThing member raizel
a quote; I especially like her third gift:
I chose dance because I felt the music I love grew inside me in a different way than could be expressed by my hands on an instrument. It coursed through my body.
If I chose piano I would have music but not dance. If I chose dance I would have both. In the
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way that very young people choose, from the heart, I chose, and I chose right.
I had a third gift, just as important as the first two, and that was a mother and father who allowed me to choose.
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