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Chicago City Ballet records

Identifier: Dance-MS-CCB

Scope and Content of the Collection

Administrative, promotional, and audiovisual records of the Chicago City Ballet, primarily from 1980-1987. Materials from the late 1970s are mostly about the Lyric Opera Ballet, Maria Tallchief’s company before the Chicago City Ballet. Administrative and financial records show the day to day operations of the company. Promotional materials such as clippings, programs, biographies, and press releases outline the history of the company, its dancers, and productions. Photographs, musical scores, and audiovisual materials document the rehearsals and performances of the company. The artifact, a director's chair with "Tallchief" blind stamped in leather on the back, was used by Marie Tallchief in both New York and in Chicago.

For related materials, see the Chicago City Ballet School Records, 1980-1994, Dance MS CCB School.

[archivist's note 2023: these items have been digitized and are available online]


  • Creation: 1924-2001
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1980-1987



Materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

The Chicago City Ballet records are open for research in the Special Collections Reading Room; 1 box at a time (Priority III).

Audiovisual recordings in this collection have been digitized and are available online. Access to the original audiovisual items is restricted.

Ownership and Literary Rights

The Chicago City Ballet records are the physical property of the Newberry Library. Copyright may belong to the authors or their legal heirs or assigns. For permission to publish or reproduce any materials from this collection, contact the Roger and Julie Baskes Department of Special Collections.

History of Chicago City Ballet

Resident ballet company in Chicago from 1980-1987, formed by Maria Tallchief.

Tallchief, a former prima ballerina under (and former wife of) George Balanchine, directed a ballet and school to support the Lyric Opera from 1974-1979. When funding was cut, she founded the Chicago City Ballet as an independent organization in January 1980 with funding from her husband Henry Paschen. During the company’s brief history, it performed at the Auditorium Theatre, Chicago Theatre, Grant Park, and other venues throughout the Chicago area. The company also toured throughout the United States, and in 1983 embarked on a European World Tour.

The early repertoire consisted exclusively of Balanchine works until 1982, when Paul Mejia joined the company as Co-Artistic Director, adding several of his works to the company’s repertoire. Among those, Cinderella became a Thanksgiving holiday tradition. The affiliated Chicago City Ballet School was directed by Marjorie Tallchief Skibine, Maria’s younger sister, and many students performed alongside the ballet company in its production of Cinderella.

A severe split in the board of directors of the company and financial issues resulted in the hiring of a single artistic director, Daniel Duell, in 1987. By the end of 1987, the Chicago City Ballet officially dissolved. The affiliated school continued to operate until closing in 1993.


14.2 Linear Feet (25 boxes, 2 oversize folders, and 1 chair)


Administrative, promotional, and audiovisual records of the Chicago City Ballet, founded by prima ballerina Maria Tallchief in 1980. The successor of the Lyric Opera Ballet, this resident ballet company toured and performed in Chicago and throughout the United States until dissolving in 1987. Also includes photographs and musical scores.


Papers are organized in the following series:

Series 1: Administrative, 1980-1988
Boxes 1-9
Series 2: Promotion, 1978-2001, bulk 1980-1987
Boxes 10-17, oversize folder
Series 3: Photographs, approximately 1980-1987
Boxes 18-22
Series 4: Music, 1924-1964, undated
Box 22
Series 5: Audiovisual, 1977-1987
Audiovisual boxes (restricted)
Series 6: Artifacts
1 chair

Collection Stack Location

3a 48 1-2; Artifacts Cage


Gift, Chicago City Ballet / Kathie Newhouse, 1988; Janis Sonnenberg, 1989.

Processed by

Mary Krones DiMaggio, 2007; Catherine Grandgeorge, 2016.



Inventory of the Chicago City Ballet records, 1924-2001, bulk 1980-1987
Catherine Grandgeorge
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • 2023-01-17: Audiovisual materials have been permanently removed from the collection for preservation. Access to the original audiovisual items is restricted.

Repository Details

Part of the The Newberry Library - Modern Manuscripts and Archives Repository

60 West Walton Street
Chicago Illinois 60610 United States