Regarded as the greatest ballerina born in America, Maria Tallchief is an Osage Indian whose father was the tribal chief. She began studying piano and dance as a small child on the Osage Reservation in Oklahoma. When she was eight, her family moved to California so she could get better instruction in music and dance. As an adult she danced for several years with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, and then went on to international stardom as prima ballerina of the New York City Ballet. After a celebrated career of over 23 years, she retired in 1965. Since then she has served as artistic director of the Lyric Opera Ballet in Chicago, and in 1980 she and her sister, Marjorie, founded the Chicago City Ballet.