TULSA, Okla. (KFOR) – Oklahoma is home to some the world’s most renowned sculptors and Native ballerinas.
The 6-foot-tall statue, once located on the grounds of Tulsa’s Historical Society but stolen off the grounds in May, displays the unique posture of Marjorie Tallchief, one of Oklahoma’s renowned Native ballerinas.
The iconic statue is now being restored under the supervision of the original sculptor Gary Henson to its original state.
The statue of Marjorie Tallchief , one of those five ballerinas on display outside the museum, was created by Henson and showcases the Five Moons — Native ballerinas Yvonne Chouteau, Rosella Hightower, Moscelyne Larkin and Maria Tallchief — Marjorie’s older sister — who rose to international fame in the latter half of the 20th century.
Henson’s depiction of the Marjorie Tallchief was a pose from the ballet “Idylle” in a 1954 promotional image for the performance.
“It was a treasure and a wonderful thing for everybody to enjoy,” said Henson, a member of the Cherokee Shawnee tribe. “To think somebody thought they could take it and destroy it and that everybody else should suffer.”
Nearly all of the pieces of the Tallchief statue were found at two scrap yards in Tulsa according to the Tulsa Historical Society.
Henson, however is dedicated to a full restoration of the statue in making molds to replace the pieces that were never recovered — Tallchief’s hand, both of her feet, part of her shoulder, a piece of her headdress and portion of one leg.
“The world would be in better shape right now if there was more of the American Indian outlook on life and the arts.”
Henson believes after recovering the pieces of the statue and restoring the bronze statue back into it’s original state will give the statue scars that can now tell a new story.
The name “Five Moons” originated from performances by the dancers at the Oklahoma Indian Ballerina Festivals held in 1957 and 1967, which were created to commemorate the 50th and 60th anniversaries of Oklahoma’s statehood. The 1967 festival featured a ballet titled “The Four Moons,” created by Cherokee composer Louis Ballard Sr. The performance featured solos that paid tribute to each dancer’s heritage.
“Nothing is ever gone,” Henson said of the damaged statue. “They could’ve grinded the statue into powder, and I could’ve put it back together. The story it tells is too important to let go of.”
Just recently, the United States Mint also announced a new $1 coin will be releasing this year featuring esteemed Native American ballerina dancer, Maria Tallchief, along with four others representing the Five Moons.