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Natalia Makarova (Choreography)


Natalia Makarova began her career in her native Leningrad, entering the Vaganova School at the age of 13. After graduating, she joined the Kirov Ballet, rapidly rising to the rank of Ballerina. She came to international prominence when she danced Giselle with the Kirov Ballet in London, which became one of her signature roles. She won the Gold Medal in Varna in l965.

On 4 September l970, while on tour in London with the Kirov, Makarova took the step which changed her life forever by requesting asylum in Britain. She began her new career by joining the American Ballet Theatre, making her debut with the Company in Giselle.
Her long association with the Royal Ballet began in 1972. She also appeared as guest artist with major ballet companies throughout the world. Her vast repertory includes the full classical repertoire and the ballets of the great contemporary choreographers including MacMillan, Robbins, Balanchine, Ashton, Bejart, Petit, Neumeier, Tetley and Cranko. In 1985 she won the Evening Standard Award in London, presented by Princess Diana, for her performance of Cranko’s Onegin.

Among the ballets & pas de deux created for Makarova are Robbin’s Other Dances (with Baryshnikov); Ashton’s Le Rossignol (with Dowell); Contredances (with Dowell); Neumeier’s Epilogue (with Bruhn); Bejart’s Mephisto (with Donn); Petit’s Blue Angel and MacMillan Pas de Deux (with MacLeary).

Natalia Makarova staged the ‘Kingdom of the Shades’ from La Bayadere for the American Ballet Theatre in l974. In 1980 she staged and directed the full-length production, making American Ballet Theatre the first Western company to acquire this work. Her production included for the first time since 1919 a reconstruction of the last act, with Makarova’s choreography after Marius Petipa, restoring the original dramatic structure and impact of this early masterpiece. She has staged her production of La Bayadere for 15 companies including the Royal Ballet, La Scala Ballet, the Royal Swedish Ballet, Teatro Colon Buenos Aires, Australian Ballet, Hamburg Ballet, Teatr Wielki in Poland; Theatro Municipal in Rio de Janeiro, Ballet de Santiago, Finnish National Ballet; the Dutch National Ballet, Corella Ballet, Tokyo Ballet, Ballet Nacional Sodre Montevideo & the Kiev Ballet. Her other productions include Giselle for the Royal Swedish Ballet; Sleeping Beauty for the Royal Ballet; Swan Lake for the Perm Ballet of Russia and the National Ballet of China; Paquita for American Ballet Theatre, National Ballet of Canada, San Francisco Ballet & the Korean Ballet.

Her television work includes the ‘Ballerina’ Series, which she wrote and presented for the BBC; ‘Assoluta’ (BBC); ‘Makarova Returns’ (BBC); ‘In a Class of Her Own’ and ‘Natasha’. She has also been filmed in Swan Lake, Giselle, Romeo and Juliet, Other Dances and La Bayadere.
She made her musical comedy debut on Broadway in On Your Toes, winning the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical in 1983, as well as the Drama Desk Award, the Stanislavsky Award and numerous other awards. In 1984 she starred in the West End production of On Your Toes, for which she won the Laurence Olivier Award.

On February 1, 1989, after 19 years’ absence, Makarova was the first artistic exile to be invited back to perform in the Soviet Union. She returned to her native Leningrad where she danced with the Kirov Ballet on the stage where she began her illustrious career. In 1991 she made her debut as a dramatic actress in the Chichester Festival production of Tovarich which transferred to the West End in London. She returned to Russia in 1992 in the play Two for the Seesaw, giving performances in Moscow and St. Petersburg. In 1997 she starred in the Chichester Festival production of George Bernard Shaw’s play Misalliance. She also appeared in Noel Coward’s Blithe Spirit at the Palace Theatre in England where she played the role of Elvira.

In 2010 American Ballet Theatre celebrated the 30th Anniversary of her production of La Bayadere at the Metropolitan Opera House and in St. Petersburg, Russia the Mariinsky Ballet paid tribute to Natalia in a Gala performance of Swan Lake. In 2011, the ‘Dance Open’ in St. Petersburg held a Jubliee performance to honor her and in 2012, the Youth America Grand Prix held a Gala called ‘Ballerina Assoluta’ in honor of Natalia at Lincoln Center in New York.

In Washington, D.C. on December 1, 2012, Natalia Makarova received the prestigious Kennedy Center Honors Award, which was created “to provide National recognition to individuals who through their lifetime have made significant contribution to American culture through the performing arts.” President & Mrs, Obama held a reception at the White House for the Honorees, which was followed by a Tribute performance at the Kennedy Center attended by the President.

Natalia Makarova continues to stage classical ballets throughout the world passing on her knowledge to a new generation of dancers.

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