JANUARY 10, 1920


Of Choctaw heritage, Hightower was a celebrated ballerina whose international career included founding the Centre de Danse Classique in Cannes, France, one of the world’s leading ballet schools.  In the U.S., in the 1940s, she performed with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, American Ballet Theater (now Ballet Theater) and Col. W. de Basil’s Ballets Russes.  Later, in Europe, she performed with the Grand Ballet de Monte Carlo–the first 20th-century American ballerina to hold a leading place on the European stage.  With Yvonne Chouteau, Moscelyne Larkin, and sisters Maria and Marjorie Tallchief, she was one of five Native American ballerinas from Oklahoma who began dancing in the 1940s.  In 1991, Oklahoma honored these dancers dedicating a mural depicting them, titled Flight of Spirit, in the Great Rotunda of the State Capitol in Oklahoma City.  In 1975, the French government named her a Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur, France’s premier honor.  She died November 4, 2008, in France.

Source:  Jack Anderson, "Rosella Hightower, Prima Ballerina and School Founder, Is Dead at 88", The New York Times, 11/4/2008.  Retrieved 6/5/2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/05/arts/dance/05hightower.html
Photo:  Harry Pot (1929-1966), 1/18/1961.  Dutch National Archives, and Spaarnestad Photo.  Permissive use.  Creative Commons 3.0, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/nl/deed.en

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