Maria & Marjorie Tallchief Scholarships Announced
The University of Oklahoma School of Dance is pleased to announce the establishment of two new endowed scholarship accounts in the support of dance majors. The Maria Tallchief Endowed Scholarship and The Marjorie Tallchief Endowed Scholarship are named in honor of the Tallchief sisters, two members of the Osage Nation who created distinguished careers in the dance world during the 20th century and whose legacies have greatly contributed to dance in the state of Oklahoma and beyond.
The scholarships will be awarded annually to full-time OU School of Dance students maintaining a required grade point average. Priority consideration will be given to those students of American Indian backgrounds and/or students with demonstrated financial need.
“It is entirely appropriate that Maria Tallchief and Marjorie Tallchief are being honored by the School of Dance through the establishment of these scholarships,” said Mary Margaret Holt, dean of the Weitzenhoffer Family College of Fine Arts. “Their influence as artists in the international world of dance cannot be overstated, and, hopefully, these scholarships will continue their already stellar legacy by inspiring and supporting generations of aspiring young dancers.”
The Tallchief sisters are two of the five women known as the Five Moons – five renowned American Indian ballerinas born or raised in Oklahoma who each went on to have remarkable performing careers in the United States and abroad. The Five Moons, which include the Tallchief sisters, Yvonne Chouteau, Moscylene Larkin, and Rosella Hightower, have been honored in a mural in the rotunda of the Oklahoma State Capitol by Chickasaw painter Mike Larsen titled Flight of Spirit and in a bronze sculpture installation in Tulsa by Oklahoma artist Gary Henson titled The Five Moons.
Maria Tallchief, widely considered to be America’s first prima ballerina, danced with the famed Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo in the 1940s. She was a principal dancer with the New York City Ballet under the direction of George Balanchine, who created several roles for her, including the title role in his production of The Firebird. She was the first Sugarplum Fairy in the premiere of his production of The Nutcracker in 1954.
Marjorie Tallchief danced with several world-renowned companies throughout her career, including Ballet Theatre (now known as American Ballet Theatre), the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, the Ballet de Marquis de Cuevas, and Harkness Ballet. She was the first Native American dancer to become the première danseuse étoile at the esteemed Paris Opera Ballet. Tallchief served as the director of dance at the Harid Conservatory in Boca Raton, Florida, from 1989 to 1993, and was presented with a distinguished service award from OU in 1992. She is the last surviving member of the Five Moons and resides in Boca Raton, Florida.
Both of the Tallchief sisters have been inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame for their contributions to the visual and performing arts in the state of Oklahoma.
“It is absolutely wonderful that the OU School of Dance is celebrating the lives and legacies of Maria and Marjorie Tallchief through these scholarships,” said Warren Queton, tribal liaison for the OU Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. “It is vitally important that a pathway is set in motion to encourage young artists from underrepresented backgrounds to follow in the footsteps of these two Osage ballerinas.”
Trainees Selected for 2nd Year of OU School of Dance and OKC Ballet Joint Trainee Program
The University of Oklahoma School of Dance and Oklahoma City Ballet are pleased to continue their partnership with the expansion of their joint trainee program in the 2019-2020 academic year. Four OU dance majors have been selected to work as studio company members with OKC Ballet while concurrently continuing their education at OU, including ballet majors Caroline Young, Elena Damiani, Katie Wolfe and Allie Smith.
The 2019-2020 academic year marks the second year of the joint trainee program. The program was implemented by School of Dance director Michael Bearden and OKC Ballet Artistic Director Robert Mills in the fall of 2018 to honor the organizations’ shared ties to famed Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo principal dancers Yvonne Chouteau and Miguel Terekhov, to strengthen the organizations’ relationship, and to provide School of Dance students with beneficial experience that will help them transition into professional dance careers following graduation.
Last year’s trainees were Micah Bullard and Caroline Young, who were both selected to perform in OKC Ballet productions with professional company dancers while simultaneously working towards their degrees. As a result of the partnership, Bullard, who graduated in May, has been offered an apprenticeship with OKC Ballet and will join the company for the 2019/2020 season.
Young, who will be entering her second year in the program as a studio company member, said, “The joint trainee program with OKC Ballet has helped me begin to transition from being a student into the work and mentality of the professional world. I feel much more equipped to begin my career with the experience I’ve gained through working with the company, and I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to be a member of the studio company for a second year and to continue the work and relationship that was established last year. The program has been an integral part of my time here at OU, and I am so grateful for all that I have learned from it so far.”
Robert Mills, artistic director of OKC Ballet, said, “Oklahoma City Ballet's partnership with the School of Dance at the University of Oklahoma is a natural progression for both of our organizations. Now entering our second year, I look forward to working with the four young artists selected for our 2019/2020 season as they gain experience working with the professional dancers of Oklahoma City Ballet.”
Dancers, athletes collaborate to recreate OU's 'We Have It All' photo campaign
Offensive lineman Bobby Evans, Jr. and Amber Bailey, mathematics and ballet performance major, re-create the 1990's and 2005 "We Have It All" photo campaign in 2018.
OU men's basketball senior Jamuni McNeace and modern dance perfromance senior Julie Russel collaborated with the "We Have It All" photo campaign.
OU School of Dance Teaching Dance for Parkinson’s
The University of Oklahoma School of Dance has begun offering dance classes for people with Parkinson’s Disease and their care partners. These classes are free and offered in the state-of-the-art dance studios in the Reynolds Performing Arts Center on OU’s Norman campus from 1 to 2 p.m. on Thursdays.
In multiple peer-reviewed studies, people with Parkinson’s who dance have shown improvements in balance, walking, cognition and in the overall quality of their lives. OU’s Dance for Parkinson’s classes give participants an opportunity to experience the benefits and joy of dance in a friendly, social atmosphere surrounded by the beauty of the OU campus.
Kathleen Redwine, School of Dance faculty member and coordinator of the Dance for Parkinson’s program, said, “I truly believe dance is for everyone, and sharing my love of dance in our Dance for Parkinson’s class is one of the highlights of my week. We laugh, dance and even create some of our own movement. While these classes are designed with Parkinson’s in mind, people with other movement disorders are welcome, too.”
The director of the School of Dance, Michael Bearden, said, "Offering services such as our dance classes for people with Parkinson's disease is a vital part of what we do in the OU School of Dance. It is important that we give back to the community through this life-enhancing program and at the same time it creates a wonderful educational opportunity for our students."
Beijing Dance Company to Perform With OU Dance
NORMAN, Okla.—The Beijing Normal University Experimental Dance Company and the University of Oklahoma School of Dance will perform “East Meets West: An Evening of Chinese and American Dance” at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 3, in the Elsie C. Brackett Theatre on OU’s Norman campus.
The Beijing-based company will perform Artistic Director Xiao Xiangrong’s “The Wall,” Chang Xiaoni’s “Suddenly Gukong” and classical Chinese and Mongolian solo dances. OU dance majors will perform David Hochoy’s “Skinwalkers” and Amy Hall Garner’s “I Rise.” Ten BNU dancers and 10 OU dance majors will perform together in a world premiere by Xiangrong.
Vocal, cello, and erhu music also will be performed.
“Skinwalkers” had its OU premiere last April, and “I Rise” will have its world premiere Sept. 21 by Oklahoma Festival Ballet.
The Oct. 3 performance will be the U.S. premiere of “The Wall” and “Suddenly Gukong.”
The performance is cosponsored by the OU Confucius Institute, which sparked the partnership in September 2017 when Roxanne Lyst, OU assistant professor of modern dance, and six modern dance majors attended the Beijing International Dance Conference.
“OU dancers and BNU dancers blended and bonded during our trip through their common love for dance,” Lyst said of the conference.
From Sept. 30 to Oct. 2, dancers from both schools will take ballet and modern dance classes taught by OU professors and Chinese dance workshops taught by BNU professors.
“I’m excited that the exchange will continue with this collaboration,” Lyst said.
“East Meets West” will be at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 3, in the Elsie C. Brackett Theatre on OU’s Norman campus. Tickets may be bought online at finearts.ou.edu, by phone at 405-325-4101 or in person at the Fine Arts box office in Catlett Music Center, 500 W. Boyd St.
OU School of Dance and OKC Ballet Announce Collaboration
NORMAN, Oklahoma August 23, 2018 – The University of Oklahoma School of Dance and Oklahoma City Ballet are pleased to announce a new cooperative venture with the opportunity for OU dance majors to work with Oklahoma City Ballet as trainees. Two ballet majors from OU, juniors Micah Bullard and Caroline Young, have been named as Trainees with Oklahoma City Ballet. They will continue their education at OU while concurrently dancing with OKC Ballet as Trainees.
“Since both OU’s dance program and OKC Ballet trace their roots back to Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo dancers Miguel Terekhov and Yvonne Chouteau, it is only natural that the two entities collaborate and work together. I am happy to begin this joint training program with the OU School of Dance and look forward to working with their students in the coming years,” said Robert Mills, artistic director of OKC Ballet.
Michael Bearden, director of the OU School of Dance, remarked, “Mr. Mills and I both desire to strengthen the bond between our sister organizations for the benefit of our students and community, so this joint trainee program seems like a wonderful step in that direction.”
The University of Oklahoma’s dance program was founded in 1963 by Yvonne Chouteau and Miguel Terekhov, former principal dancers with Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. What had been a department became the School of Dance in 1998, with Mary Margaret Holt as director. In July 2017, the School of Dance welcomed Michael Bearden as the school’s third director in the program’s 54-year history. Undergraduate and graduate dance majors, along with general education students, total approximately 1000 enrollees in dance classes per semester. The School of Dance's state-of-the-art facility in the Donald W. Reynolds Performing Arts Center was completed in 2005.
Ballet majors Micah Bullard and Caroline Young are the first OU students to be trainees with OKC Ballet as they continue their education and training at the university.
Contemporary Dance Oklahoma Visits Beijing
Last month, members of OU's Contemporary Dance Oklahoma company woke up around 5 a.m. to eat traditional Chinese breakfasts of rice and vegetables with other dance companies from around the world. They were in Beijing taking part in the International Creative Dance Seminar while also learning that dance extends beyond cultural barriers.
Artistic Director of Dance Kaleidoscope Visits OU School of Dance
On October 23, the University of Oklahoma School of Dance will welcome international dance teacher and choreographer, David Hochoy. Hochoy will be at OU for one week to teach and talk to students as the 2017 Susan E. Brackett Distinguished Visiting Artist Chair. During this time he will also choreograph a new work to be performed next spring by Contemporary Dance Oklahoma, OU’s modern dance company.
Born in Trinidad, Hochoy discovered dance at age 20. After studying dance with Alvin Ailey and Martha Graham, he joined the Martha Graham Company in 1980 and performed all over the world. In 1982, he joined the faculty of the Martha Graham School and since then has taught both in the U.S. and internationally. As the artistic director for Dance Kaleidoscope in Indianapolis, IN, he has choreographed 70 dances for the company in his 27 years there. Hochoy won the prestigious Choo-San Goh Award for choreography in 2006 and most recently received the TAIG Award for Excellence in the Arts from Penn State Thespians in 2017.
Three OU School of Dance graduates, Marie Kuhns, Manuel Valdes and Emily Dyson, are currently members of Dance Kaleidoscope. Dyson will be coming back to OU working with Hochoy as his choreographic assistant.
School of Dance Director Michael Bearden said, “We are so fortunate to have Mr. Hochoy join us for this residency. Our students will benefit greatly from his experience and insight into our art form and I can’t wait to see them dance in his work next semester as part of our Contemporary Dance Oklahoma production.”