Five distinguished ballerinas were honored at the University of Oklahoma’s School of Dance for their perseverance in the dance world in the 20th century.
Maria and Marjorie Tallchief, Rosella Hightower, Moscelyne Larkin and Yvonne Chouteau are five Native American ballerinas. All from Oklahoma with legacies that spread worldwide.
“Really without them we probably wouldn't be in this building. They were able to be more than racial identity. They were able to make a name for themselves when other people didn't see them equally as other people and I think that's really important,” Ana Vega said.
Michael Bearden with the university said the school of dance is directly linked to these five ballerinas. Yvonne Chouteau and her husband founded OU's dance program in the '60s paving the way for students to not have to fight as hard as they did.
“I hope what our OU students get out of this weekend is just being more aware of other people’s pathways so that their more empathetic and sensitive to the diversity around us and it's important to be acknowledged other people's pathway and the things they had to go through to get to where they are,” Bearden said.
This was the first Five Moons Dance Festival. The festival included a series of panel discussions about the ballerinas’ legacies. OU dancers along with Several dance companies and members of the tribal nations performed dances in the ballerinas' honor.
“I think it's really great what OU is doing. They're bringing a lot of attention to the Native American culture and I think that's super important. Not many dance schools would even try or put in that effort to do that, so I wanted to be a part of it,” Kira Robinson said.