The Oklahoma sculptor is attempting to restore the iconic ballerina statue

Tulsa, Oklahoma (KFOR) – Oklahoma is home to some of the world’s most famous sculptors and native ballerinas.

The 6-foot-tall statue at Tulsa’s Historical Society was once the site before being stolen from the grounds in May, revealing a one-of-a-kind display of Marjorie Tallchief, one of Oklahoma’s famous native ballerinas.

Now, under the supervision of sculptor Gary Henson, it is being restored by restoring the statue to its original condition.

(Courtesy: Tulsa Historical Society & Museum)

The mayor of Tulsa called the theft “a disgrace.”

Henson’s statue of Marjorie Tallchief is one of five ballerinas on display outside the museum celebrating the Five Moons – native ballerinas Yvonne Chouteau, Rosella Hightower, Moscelyne Larkin and Maria Tallchief, Marjorie’s older sister – who are native to the United States international fame rose in the second half of the 20th century.

Henson’s portrayal of Marjorie Tallchief was a pose from the ballet Idyll. in a 1954 promotional image for the performance.

“It was a treasure and a wonderful thing for all to enjoy,” said Henson, a member of the Shawnee Cherokee tribe. “To think that someone thought they could take it and destroy it and everyone else would suffer.”

Almost all parts of the Tallchief statue were found in two Tulsa junkyards, according to the Tulsa Historical Society.

(Courtesy: Tulsa Historical Society & Museum)

However, Henson is dedicated to a full restoration of the statue, making molds to replace the parts that were never recovered – Tallchief’s hand, both feet, part of her shoulder, part of her headdress, and part of a leg.

“The world would be in a better shape now if there was more of the Native American perspective on life and art.”

Henson believes that after recovering the parts of the statue and restoring the bronze statue to its original state, the statue will be left with scars that can now tell a new story.

The name “Five Moons” comes from performances by the dancers at the Oklahoma Indian Ballerina Festivals in 1957 and 1967, established to commemorate the 50th and 60th anniversaries of Oklahoma statehood. The 1967 festival featured a ballet entitled “The Four Moons” created by Cherokee composer Louis Ballard Sr. The performance featured solos that paid tribute to each dancer’s legacy.

“Nothing is ever gone,” Henson said of the damaged statue. “They could have ground the statue into powder and I could have put it back together. The story she tells is too important to let go.”

Also recently, the United States Mint announced that this year a new $1 coin will be issued featuring the acclaimed Native American ballerina dancer Maria Tallchief along with four others representing the Five Moons.


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