As a young dancer, pre internet, I used to scour the local library in my little Ohio town for any and every ballet and dance book. I ordered and inter-library loaned whatever I could get my hands on.
Of course, the ones with the pictures were best. I would photo copy my favorite ballerinas’ pictures and plaster them all over my room. They were my heroes. Dead or alive, they inspired me.
I can’t pretend that I was obsessed with Maria Tallchief, but she was up there. A black and white portrait of her as the white swan sticks in my mind. She was a balanchine ballerina, she was a pioneer, she was beautiful.
About a year ago I was paying a regular visit to my dentist and was having a garbled conversation about dance in general when he remarked that maria paschen was in the room next door. He would introduce me but he was afraid it might be a bit much for her.
Maria Paschen, Maria Paschen, why couldn’t I place that name? She was, he described, elegant and always pointed her toes while she reclined with clean teeth, just like I was doing now apparently…. Maria Paschen….
When I got home I did some googling, and low and behold Maria Paschen was Maria Tallchief’s married name! I became a child again. We had the same dentist! How an ordinary, everyday routine suddenly became a spectacular brush with beauty! Idols get their teeth cleaned too! I kicked myself for not being more in awe at the time.
I was saddened today when I heard of her passing, despite the fact that she lived a long, full life. Ballet has lost a legend and now my dentist visits will be ordinary again.