CHOUTEAU, MYRA YVONNE (1929–2016 ).
One of the celebrated Indian ballerinas of Oklahoma and the youngest dancer in history to turn professional, Chouteau was born March 7, 1929, in Fort Worth, Texas. She was the only child of Col. Corbett Edward and Lucy Arnett Chouteau. Listed as Shawnee on the Cherokee role and a member of the oldest pioneering family in Oklahoma, she is the great-great-great-granddaughter of Maj. Jean Pierre Chouteau, who established Oklahoma's oldest white settlement, at the present site of Salina, circa 1796.
In 1943 at the age of fourteen Chouteau joined the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. She was the youngest dancer ever accepted, dancing with the company for fourteen years. Her most recognized dance role is the Glove Seller in Gaite Parisienne, although she danced Giselle, The Nutcracker, Les Sylphide, Pas de Quatre, and Romeo and Juliet. She worked with master choreographers including George Balanchine, Leonide Massine, Antony Tudor, Agnes de Mille, and Bronislav Nijinska. Yvonne Chouteau married Miguel Terekhov, a principal dancer with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, in 1956, and the couple had two children, Christina Maria and Antonia Elizabeth.
In 1960 Chouteau and Terekhov became artists in residence at the University of Oklahoma, and they initiated ballet courses in a program that led to a dance degree. In 1963 the couple organized the Oklahoma City Civic Ballet (now Ballet Oklahoma), which they ran for ten years. Chouteau has appeared at almost every world's fair and at numerous events throughout the nation. From 1932 to 1941 she led every major parade in Oklahoma, including her first, the Silver Anniversary Statehood Day parade, during which she was named "Daughter of Oklahoma, Good Will Ambassadress to the World at Large."
Her illustrious list of honors began in 1947 with induction into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame (at age eighteen, its youngest member) and the International Who's Who. In 1963 Women in Journalism named her Outstanding Oklahoma Woman, and American Women in Radio and Television named her Woman of the Year. In 1964 the University of Oklahoma's Theta Sigma Phi named her Outstanding Faculty of 1964, and the Soroptimist Club of Oklahoma City named her Outstanding Woman of Oklahoma for 1970. With Oklahoma's other American Indian ballerinas, Chouteau is pictured in Mike Larsen's mural Flight of Spirit, on display in the Oklahoma Capitol Rotunda. At the end of the twentieth century she resided in Oklahoma City. Yvonne Chouteau died on January 24, 2016, in Oklahoma City.
"Yvonne Chouteau," Vertical File, Archives, Max Chambers Library, University of Central Oklahoma, Edmond.
"Yvonne Chouteau," Vertical File, Research Division, Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City.
"Yvonne Chouteau," Vertical File, Western History Collection, University of Oklahoma, Norman.
Lili Cockerille Livingston, American Indian Ballerinas (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1997).
The following (as per The Chicago Manual of Style, 16th edition) is the preferred citation for articles:
Melissa Vincent, "Chouteau, Myra Yvonne," The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, www.okhistory.org (accessed April 23, 2017).
© Copyright Oklahoma Historical Society 2009.