The following was excerpted from an Inside the Mint feature by Sharon McPike
The U.S. Mint celebrated the Maria Tallchief quarter during an event in Chicago, Illinois, on October 29. The event was held in partnership with the National Women’s History Museum and Lyric Opera of Chicago. The Maria Tallchief Quarter is the final release in 2023 and the tenth coin overall in the American Women Quarters (AWQ) Program.
The event fittingly took place at the Lyric Opera House where, during Lyric’s first decade of existence, Maria Tallchief graced their stage as prima ballerina for two company premieres: Ponchielli’s “La Gioconda” (1957) and Gluck’s “Orfeo ed Euridice” (1962). In 1971, she was appointed ballet director at Lyric, a position she held for two decades. In 1974 she founded Chicago City Ballet, which became the resident ballet company for Lyric, and an important independent dance organization for much of the 1980s.
Legendary Chicago anchorman Bill Kurtis emceed the event, which included a film tribute of Maria Tallchief’s life produced by Donna LaPietra, as well as remarks from Susan Whiting, Board Chair, National Women’s History Museum; Kristie McNally, Deputy Director, United States Mint; and Katherine Harvey, a member of the Women’s Board of Lyric Opera of Chicago since 1979 and friend of Maria Tallchief. A panel discussion moderated by Mary Smith, President of the American Bar Association and Member of the National Women’s History Museum Board of Directors treated guests to insights into Maria Tallchief’s life from author Larry Kaplan. Elise Paschen, Maria Tallchief’s daughter, shared commentary on her mother’s legacy and recited one of her famous poems about her mother. Attendees also enjoyed performances by The Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center and the Joffrey Ballet Studio Company.