Maria Tallchief Paschen (January 24, 1925- April 11, 2013) Lyric Opera joins the international performing-arts community in mourning the loss of legendary ballerina and Chicago choreographer Maria Tallchief, who has passed away at 88.    

Maria Tallchief, credit Victor Skrebneski

Maria Tallchief Paschen (January 24, 1925- April 11, 2013)

Lyric Opera joins the international performing-arts community in mourning the loss of legendary ballerina and Chicago choreographer Maria Tallchief, who has passed away at 88.  

Ms. Tallchief began her five-decade affiliation with Lyric as a principal dancer in the Ruth Page Chicago Opera Ballet, Lyric's resident ballet troupe during the 1950s and 1960s. 

In 1973, Lyric general manager Carol Fox hired Ms. Tallchief to teach a movement class for Lyric singers.  This class evolved into the Lyric Opera Ballet, which Ms. Tallchief led from its inception in 1973 until 1979.  From the 1970s through the first decade of the twenty-first century, Ms. Tallchief choreographed dances for more than fifty different Lyric productions.  In recognition of her pioneering artistic influence, Lyric Opera created the advisory position of Ballet Director for Ms. Tallchief in the 1970s.  She is the first and only person to hold the title.

Ms. Tallchief is survived by her daughter Elise Paschen, her two grandchildren, her sister, and generations of Chicago dancers she taught, choreographed, and inspired. Her husband, Henry Paschen, died in 2004.

Top photo: Victor Skrebneski.