Yvonne Chouteau, former ballerina with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo and one of Oklahoma City Ballet's founding artistic directors, died on Sunday at 86 years old. Chouteau was one of the “Five Moons," five Native American ballerinas from Oklahoma who gained international acclaim in 20th century. (The others' names you might recognize: Marjorie and Maria Tallchief, Rosella Hightower and Moscelyne Larkin.) In this clip from the documentary Ballets Russes, we can see rare footage of Chouteau's luminous stage presence. She seems to bask in the spotlight's glow during the prayer variation in Coppélia, floating across the stage with perfect, tiny bourrées. In the next dance sequence, she swoops low and springs to relevé with such exuberance, you can't help but smile.
Chouteau and her husband, fellow Ballet Russe dancer Miguel Terekhov, founded the University of Oklahoma's dance program in 1961 and Oklahoma City Civic Ballet, now OKC Ballet, in 1963. Though Chouteau's legacy is rooted in her home state, she's an inspiration to Native American dancers everywhere, as well as to any dancer who has left her comfort zone for the sake of her art. Happy #ThrowbackThursday!