Blogging and Ballet

I have a confession to make: I don’t know where this blogging thing is going to lead me. Big deal, you say. But as a goal-oriented Capricorn, this is a departure for me. When I was 14, I gave up ballet after nine years of study because I didn’t get into a summer program at the Houston Ballet. I did more pirouettes than I dreamed possible for the audition, which took place at Suzanne’s School of Classical Ballet in Albuquerque, N.M., but I didn’t make the grade.

At that time, I was already 6 feet tall and I knew I wasn’t going to be the next Maria Tallchief, the Native American prima ballerina who was larger than life. Not long after, I quit taking ballet lessons and decided to focus all my efforts on the school yearbook and newspaper.

As an aside, when I just googled Suzanne, I learned that Suzanne M. Johnston will be honored on Apr. 26 in Albuquerque at the Arts Alliance Bravo Awards. Can you believe she started her school back in 1962? The “Duke City” was just a small town then. It’s wonderful to hear that Suzanne, as her students were permitted to call her, is still kicking and with a little luck, jetéing.

I quit ballet once it became apparent to me that it was not going to be my vocation. In my narrow Saturn/Mercury in Cap mind, I couldn’t afford to waste time on anything that wasn’t going to pay off. Hobbies? Those were for other people. Now, of course, before the Internet I had to find ways to amuse myself when I wasn’t pursuing my dream of becoming a reporter.

Once I stopped taking ballet classes every weekday, I mostly listened to the radio (I considered Casey Kasem of “American Top 40” a close personal friend), read books, particularly biographies of women, and calculated charts for friends.  There are many people who consider this period in your teens before you are allowed to get your driver’s license a golden age of creativity.

When it came to writing, I wasn’t interested unless I had an outlet for my words. Sure, I kept a diary for a little while but it wasn’t as satisfying as going out and interviewing people, writing stories, and — ta-daa! — seeing my byline in some publication. One of the first articles I wrote for The Sandian at Sandia High School in Albuquerque was about a gifted ballet dancer, Carla Neff, who studied at Suzanne’s School of Classical Ballet. I don’t know where Carla is today but perhaps she’s opened a dance school somewhere.

Ballet has been on my brain lately because there was recently a Native American Film Festival here in Palm Springs, and one of the presentations was Sandra and Yasu Osawa’s documentary about Maria Tallchief, which has been shown on PBS. Like most ballet students,  I idolized Maria, along with Anna Pavlova and Isadora Duncan, whose tragic death by strangulation put me off long scarves and convertibles forever. Unfortunately, a schedule conflict prevented me from attending the one screening of the Tallchief doc, but I started thinking about this amazing woman for the first time in many years.

Often, when a person who has been out of the public eye for a while pops back on the radar, it coincides with a Uranus transit to the Sun or Ascendant. Despite my best efforts, I couldn’t learn what time Tallchief was born. Even her own biography doesn’t mention it. According to Chapter One of “Maria Tallchief: America’s Prima Ballerina,” which Tallchief wrote with Larry Kaplan:

“I was born in Fairfax [Oklahoma] in the tiny local hospital on January 24, 1925. The doctor mishandled the forceps, leaving a large red mark on my forehead. Otherwise, I was healthy and normal. They named me Elizabeth Marie after two grandmothers: Eliza Tall Chief, and my Grandma Porter, who’d been named for Marie Antoinette, and with whom I would spend a great deal of time as a child. They called me Betty Marie.”

It was Agnes DeMille who suggested that the ballerina call herself Maria Tallchief and a brilliant suggestion it was. I spent about an hour trawling the Net in hopes of finding a birth time for Tallchief, checking places like AstroDataBank and Astrotheme, both of which are on my blog roll. No luck. Now, if anyone can find out when Tallchief was born, it’s Michael WolfStar over at StarIQ, but I don’t have his sources or persistence.

When you don’t have a time of birth, it’s customary to set the chart for noon. What’s strange is that method gives Tallchief an Aries rising with a Chiron/Mars conjunction in the first house, which would be entirely plausible for someone with a scar on her face!

In addition to a T square in fixed signs (Sun/Moon in Aquarius oppose Neptune/North Node in Leo square Saturn in Scorpio, Tallchief has a Capricorn triple conjunction of Venus/Mercury/Jupiter, which falls in the 10th house with a noon birth time. Because we don’t have a birth time, we don’t know for sure that the stellium, or group of planets, is in the 10th house of fame and career. Even if it isn’t, that powerful combination of planets would guarantee that Tallchief would have luck with foreigners and dignitaries.

Indeed, she studied under Russian dancer Bronislava Nijinska in Los Angeles and got her first big break with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, where she became a soloist. Her collaboration with Russian choreographer George Balanchine, who was her husband for six years, at the New York City Ballet, where she was prima ballerina from 1947 to 1960, helped solidify her reputation. In 1953, no less than President Dwight D. Eisenhower named her “Woman of the Year.”

That powerful Capricorn stellium is opposed by Pluto in Cancer and trines Uranus, which is at 18 degrees, 59 minutes of Pisces. Tallchief isn’t having Uranus on her Sun right now, but she is having Uranus and Jupiter returns at the same time, which could account for the public interest in her career. You can look at the chart here.

Well, blogging has brought me back to my love of ballet. Perhaps it will lead me back to the barre.

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2 comments on “Blogging and Ballet

  1. I grew up with Maria Tallchief, Monica. Her daughter was a classmate ll through primary and high school, and the family lived right across the street from my grandparents. Thanks for the memories!

  2. Rebecca — Thanks for taking the time to read and write. I know with your job at JupiterMedia you look at Web sites all day. What a strange coincidence about you and the Tallchiefs. I’d love to see what she looks like today so I must see the documentary. I have a feeling those Native American cheekbones have served her well.

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