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Oklahoman, ballet legend Maria Tallchief dead at 88

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Flower Festival by Rudolf Nureyev and Maria Tallchief (1962)

Flower Festival by Rudolf Nureyev and Maria Tallchief (1962)

CHICAGO – The dance world is mourning the death of prima-ballerina and Oklahoma native Maria Tallchief.

The 88-year-old dancer died in Chicago Thursday at the age of 88 from complications stemming from a broken hip.

Tallchief was from the Osage tribe and the daughter of an Oklahoma oil family.

Her family moved to Beverly Hills when she was just 8 years old and she eventually found her way to New York where she made her mark as one of the most brilliant ballet dancers of recent history.

She was a trailblazer for Native Americans in a ballet scene that was dominated by Russians and Europeans.

In fact, she originated the role of the Sugarplum Fairy in the Nutcracker in 1954.

Tallchief is honored in Oklahoma with her portrait, along with other top Native American ballet dancers in the Capitol rotunda.