Producer Maria Tallchief attends the Producers Guild Of America Presents 2006 Celebration of Diversity May 9, 2006 at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Mark Mainz/Getty Images)
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CHICAGO (AP) -- Legendary New York City Ballet prima ballerina Maria Tallchief has died at age 88.
Tallchief's daughter, Elise Paschen, said Friday that her mother died Thursday in Chicago. Tallchief joined the company that would become the New York City Ballet in 1948. She was married for a time to George Balanchine, who founded the School of American Ballet in New York.
Tallchief worked with Balanchine on such masterpieces as 1949's "Firebird" and his now-historic version of "The Nutcracker."
Tallchief was one of five Oklahoma natives of American Indian descent who rose to prominence in the ballet world from the 1940s through the 1960s. She retired in 1965, when she started teaching the next generation of dancers. She worked with the Chicago Lyric Opera Ballet and founded the Chicago City Ballet.
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