Maria Tallchief (1925-2013) was born to a Native American father and a Scottish-Irish mother, and as a child she moved from Oklahoma to Los Angeles where she studied with Ernest Belcher and Bronislava Nijinska. She performed with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo before becoming the leading ballerina of New York City Ballet for almost twenty years. George Balanchine created more than twenty-five roles for her, and was married to her from 1946 to 1951. (Tallchief’s autobiography relates that they spent their honeymoon in the country home of costume designer Karinska, on the same road as Jacob’s Pillow.) When Tallchief premiered Sylvia just a few months before the performance seen here, a critic noted her “wonderful gift for small, intricate, precise and delicate movement, together with miraculous aplomb.” During the same Pillow engagement, she also showcased another signature Balanchine role, The Firebird.