2 3 Throwback Thursday and Rosella Hightower | Ballet Webb

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Throwback Thursday and Rosella Hightower

Throwback Thursday and Rosella Hightower

Rosella Hightower, an American ballerina of Choctaw descent, was born in Oklahoma on January 10, 1920. Her family moved to Kansas City Missouri where she began her dance training with Dorothy Perkins. In 1937, Leonide Massine invited her to join a new ballet company he was creating in Monte Carlo. She traveled there only to discover that her employment wasn’t guaranteed and she was there simply for further auditions. But she was ultimately hired by The Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo.

After the start of World War II, she traveled with the company to New York, where she joined Ballet Theater. It was 1941. In 1946 she joined the Original Ballet Russe (the de Basil Ballet). In 1947 she replaced an ailing Alicia Markova in the role of Giselle, learning the role in five hours. A review of her performance called her “the newest star on the ballet horizon”.

She went on to dance with many companies and ballet luminaries such as Erik Bruhn and Rudolf Nureyev. In 1962 she opened a school near her home in Cannes, France which became one of the leading schools of ballet. She also directed several ballet companies, including the Marseille Ballet, the Ballet of the Grand Theatre of Nancy and the Parisi Opera Ballet.

In Oklahoma she is honored, along with four other Native American ballerinas, (Yvonne Chouteau, Moscelyne Larkin, Maria Tallchief and Marjorie Tallchief) with a large bronze statue.
Rosella Hightower died in Cannes on November 4, 2008. She was 88 years old.

From the Big Blue Book of Ballet Secrets:

Dance History Factoid #102:  
Rosella Hightower was an American and a Native American ballerina.

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