Learn about the Five Moons Ballerinas in honor of National American Indian Heritage Month

The Five Moons (from left): Maria Tallchief, Marjorie Tallchief, Rosella Hightower, Moscelyne Larkin and Yvonne Chouteau. Courtesy OU School of Dance

November is National American Indian Heritage Month and we want to take a moment to honor the many ballet dancers of American Indian Heritage who have contributed to our art form. The most well-known are the “Five Moons” ballerinas from Oklahoma who each made a tremendous impact in shaping ballet in America during the 20th century, including Rosella Hightower of Choctaw heritage, Moscelyne Larkin, a member of the Shawnee-Peoria tribe, Yvonne Chouteau of Shawnee and Cherokee heritage, and sisters Marjorie and Maria Tallchief, members of the Osage Nation.

Maria Tallchief dressed as Odette in Swan Lake, Act II and Yvonne Chouteau dressed as Princess Florisse in The Sleeping Beauty, Act III, no. 50. Both dancers took classes at SAB. Photo by Maurice Seymour for Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. © Ronald Seymour

Each one of these dancers performed with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo before going on to have incredible careers on the stage and in leadership roles with major companies like New York City Ballet, American Ballet Theater, Tulsa Ballet, Oklahoma City Ballet, and the Paris Opéra Ballet. Their influence continues to inspire and their trailblazing legacies have left a huge imprint on the history of ballet.

We invite you to take a deeper dive into their individual life stories through the videos and links to articles and resources we’ve assembled below…

New York Times – Oklahoma’s Gift to Ballet: The Five Moons Ballerinas

SAB Trailblazer: Maria Tallchief

Pointe Magazine – Inaugural Five Moons Dance Festival Honors Oklahoma’s Native American Ballerinas