The "Five Moons"

Native American Ballerinas from Oklahoma

The "Five Moons"

(405) 751-7760

Native American Oklahoma Ballerinas

The "Five Moons"

Rosella Hightower - Vinta, OK - Shawnee TribeYvonne Chouteau - Durwood, OK - ChoctawMoscelyne Larkin - Miami, OK - Peoria, Shawnee & RussianMaria Tallchief - Fairfax, OK - OsageMarjorie Tallchief - Fairfax, OK - Osage

a report by Jessica J Oliver



Mark Schwartz

Jessica is a piano student of mine. Jessica has been taking lessons since Aug. 10, 2010. During our lesson one day Jessica mentioned she had completed a report at school on Rosella Hightower. That brought up the topic in which my older brother Anthony D Schwartz had played piano during rehearsals for Yvonne Chouteau another one of the "Five Moons" or Native Prima Ballerinas of Oklahoma.In 1962 Yvonne Chouteau and her husband Miguel Terekhov founded the first fully accredited university dance program in the United States, at the University of Oklahoma.Tony remembers he had improvised original compositions during the rehearsals while Yvonne and Miguel's students were going through their routines. He also remembers Rosella Hightower visiting the classes from time to time.

Jessica's Report

I am Rosella Hightower; I was born in Durwood, Oklahoma, of Choctaw heritage on January 10th, 1922. My parents Charles Edgar Hightower and Eula May Fanning were married in 1910. I grew up on a farm and enjoyed many chores to help my family. I was 5 when I moved with my family to Kansas City Missouri after my father took a new position with Missouri - Kansas - Texas railroad.

At a very young age my Aunt took me to my first ballet production and that is when I fell in love with ballet. My Aunt convinced my mother to let me start ballet classes. My first teacher Dorothy Perkins or as I called her Perky had a huge impact on my ballet career. Perky taught from a wheelchair due to an accident that left her paralyzed from the waist down. I believe learning ballet from a teacher that could not demonstrate the ballet moves gave me a huge advantage in my career. It gave me the ability to work with chorographers by picking up ballet steps by just a movement of the hand and a few words.

I began dancing in the most famous ballet productions and with some of the most famous ballet companies. I starred in the production of Swan Lake which I received an excellent review that I was the newest star on the ballet horizon.

In 1937 Russian chorographer and ballet dancer Leonide Massine invited me to join a new ballet company he was forming in Monte Carlo. I traveled to France with no firm promise of employment but was finally accepted into the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. I met Andre my future dance partner. After World War II broke out I followed Ballet Russe to New York City where I joined the ballet theater in 1941.

In 1946 I joined Basil Ballet. The lead dancer became ill and I was asked to replace her. I had never danced the part before but I had 5 hours of rehearsal and received acclaim for dancing the part in Giselle.

In 1947 I accepted an invitation to join a new ballet company called de Cuevas Ballet.I married Jean Robier in 1951. We had 1 daughter Dominique, Born on Feb. 18, 1955. Our daughter became a dancer. I remained with the de Cuevas ballet company until the owner's death in 1961. I opened my own ballet school in 1962 near my home in Cannes. It became one of Europe's leading ballet schools.

I continued to teach and dance until I passed away at my home in France on Nov. 4, 2008.