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Natalia Makarova Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (4) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (1) | Trade Mark (3) | Trivia (31) | Personal Quotes (13)

Overview (4)

Born in Leningrad, RSFSR, USSR [now St. Petersburg, Russia]
Birth NameNatalya Romanovna Makarova
Nickname Natasha
Height 5' 3" (1.6 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Named "prima ballerina absolutta," as well as "first lady of ballet," heavily praised for her legendary superhuman work in ballet. She, along with Baryshnikov, Nureyev, Nijinsky and Malakov remain as evidence that he finest ballet dancer of any generation will always be a Russian.

With her shapely face, big expressive eyes, large cheekbones and perfect svelte, yet rubber-like flexible body and long, willowy limbs, Makarova has emerged as one one the greatest ever to put on a pair of tights and toe shoes.

Born in the city of Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) in 1940, Natalia Makarova was not really born into the theatre or dance. Not many of her family was based into what became her devotion. Most of those in dance get involved are continuing in the family tradition. Now Makarova, she came from a family of scientists. Her introduction to the world of dance was one of pure destiny.

She showed up to the ballet school entirely by sheer dumb luck, and in the same vein, was admitted immediately. She started up at the age of twelve and completed the nine-year course in only six. Truly a natural talent blessed by God.

Makarova studied at the Choreographic School in Leningrad. Although she was older than many of the other girls, she quickly made up for lost time, excelling in class and completing the entire course in six years instead of the standard nine. Always showing more skill and talent than the ballet called for.

She graduated in 1959 and joined the famed Kirov Ballet. Makarova was never allowed any modern or large roles during her run. But during her sint, she was given solo roles, but moved up to principal very quickly. Although she was difficult, she excelled in role after role, even her early ones. She always seemed to find her own unique voice, rather than just trying to imitate the other dancers or doing or following the instructor's orders.

During her sint which spanned from 1959-to-1970, she performed the classic ballerina repertoire such as "Swan Lake," "Sleeping Beauty" and "Giselle," which has said to be her best. Many have said that there has not been any ballerina finer in the title role.

She is somehow always a neighborly tomboy and a petite, dainty and dignified lady all at once.

Though in 1961, her breakthrough as a true star came when the Soviet Union wanted to show just how great the dancers in their country truly were, in reaction to the defected Rudolf Nureyev, who made an enormous splash when he left his homeland.

Although she was praised to high-heaven throughout her career and things were really taken off now, like many others before her, the Russian repertoire of ballet was limiting, politics were forced and freedom and individuality were non-exist ant. When the troupe was London, Makarova defected and remained in seclusion until the plane took off.

She eventually came out of hiding and danced a filmed version of "The Dying Swan" with Nureyev for the BBC. After this, she was invited to perform with the American Ballet Theatre right away.

In 1982, she was all-set to appear on the '30's Broadway musical "On Your Toes" by George Balanchine in the role of the Russian temptress, Vera. Makarova was hit by a fallen stage prop during a live performance in Washington, DC. This would normally spell disaster and the end, but Makarova's life was about doing the impossible and refused to even be set back. Despite her hospitalization for injuries to her shoulder and back, she recuperated and returned to the show. Although some found "On Your Toes" to be now almost ludicrously out-dated and campy, the stars were acclaimed to high-heaven, especially Makarova who even taking home the Tony Award and the Lawrence Oliver Award for her performance.

In Russia, her name was banned for the longest time.

After she danced with Anthony Dowell of the Royal Ballet, she was smitten with his looks, charm, strength and grace onstage. She wished to get involved with him romantically, but because of Dowell's sexuality, he could not return her feelings. Makarova attempted to lean and cry on the shoulder of old romantic flame and dance partner, a man named Mikhail Baryshnikov. She attempted to re-connect with him, but Baryshnikov was already connected to fellow ABT dancer Gelsey Kirkland.

Makarova, as endlessly gifted in ballet as she is, did not limit herself to the ballet stage. Makarova has dabbled in other crafts--theatre acting, painting, even writing and appearing in her own 1994 BBC special, "Great Railway Journey-St. Peterberg to Tashkent" and the documentary "Natasha" about much of her onstage career. When she goes, she will know that she has left something behind. A legacy forever cemented in stone.

Hell, she already has.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Dane R. Youssef

Spouse (1)

Edward Karkar (1976 - present) (1 child)

Trade Mark (3)

Her especially thin ballet frame
Large blue eyes and prominent features
Especially heavy Russian accent when she speaks

Trivia (31)

Was romantically involved with Mikhail Baryshnikov.
She was awarded the Laurence Olivier Theatre Award in 1985 (1984 season) for Best Actress in a Musical for "On Your Toes".
Fell for famed Royal Ballet dancer Anthony Dowell. She danced with him and felt a romantic connection to him. Unfortunately, because of his sexual preference, he could only offer her friendship at best.
When dancing at the Hamburg Ballet, she asked boy wonder Patrick Bissell from the ABT to be her partner. After the performance, he slashed his wrists.
During a rehearsal she had with fellow dancing legend Rudolf Nureyev, he had gotten angry at her and during a particular pas de deux, he simply let her fall. Makarova was furious, "I will never dance with that man again.".
Considered by all who saw her dance to be the best of the twentieth century. Because of her perfect body, her grace and charm, she was believed to the most idealized and envied ballerina in the world at that time.
Gold Medal from Second International Ballet Competition in Varna, Bulgaria, 1965.
Named honored artist of Russian Federation, 1969;
She is a great admirer of the art of Botticelli and is a painter herself.
Won a Tony as Best Actress in a Musical, for her performance as Vera in the 1983 Broadway revival of the Rodgers and Hart musical "On Your Toes".
Many ballerinas have admired her thin svelte body so much, they had starved themselves in order to achieve her body type.
Became the first ever Russian artistic exile to be invited back to dance in her native land.
In 1980, she staged the first full-length U.S. production of "La Bayadere", making ABT the first western company to acquire this work.
Her reunion with the Kirov Ballet took place in London on August 6, 1988 when she danced an excerpt from Swan Lake with the company.
In her native homeland of Russia, her name was banned for many years.
Her first public appearance (at age eleven) was somewhat diminished by her inability to maintain proper timing with the other members of the corps.
When she was in London with the Kirov, Makarova was assigned the title role in "Giselle," a character she had already danced to acclaim during her commencement performance in Leningrad. Dance critics heaped praise like "the supreme test of the actress-dancer" (Arlene Croce) London's critics hailed her as "one of ballet's most promising new performers, and New York City's critics seconded that appraisal. The New York Times's John Martin was particularly impressed with Makarova's poise in the slow movement, or adagio, which he described as "breathtakingly beautiful."
Despite all her talent she developed in the West, in all of her interviews, Makarova always said that it was thanks to the Russian school of ballet that she had become the ballerina she was. Limited range and political oppression aside, their dedication to the sport has always turned out the finest dancers.
She has worked with such choreographic talents as George Balanchine, Jerome Robbins, Mikhail Baryshnikov and 'Maurice Bejart'.
In 1980, she had her very own dancing troupe for a while called "Makarova and Company," following another stint with the ABT. She insisted that her company would provide dancers with "proper training" and present audiences with a sampling of Soviet-style ballet. She programmed works ranging from classical ballet by Petipa to modern ballet. But the critics more or less scathed it in publications. The New Yorker and Village Voice expressed displeasure with her self-manned artistic venture. New Yorker's Croce noted that the entire enterprise "had all the earmarks of a popular showcase," and the Voice's Deborah Jowitt contended that "rich trappings alone can't sustain [ballet]," adding that the works were simply "vehicles for the dancers." But like Baryshnikov, after her troupe folded, she continued dancing for herself.
Recipient of the 2012 Kennedy Center Honors. Other recipient that year were Buddy Guy, Dustin Hoffman, David Letterman, and the rock band Led Zeppelin, comprising John Paul Jones, Jimmy Page, and Robert Plant.
Her favorite dance partners were Anthony Dowell, Ivan Nagy and Erik Bruhn. Perhaps a little astoundingly, Mikhail Baryshnikov didn't make the list.
American Prima Ballerina Gelsey Kirkland called her "The Greatest Ballerina in the Word".
She remarked that Kevin McKenzie was a favorite dance partner of hers while dancing at The American Ballet Theatre.
Mikhail Baryshnikov named her his favorite partner.
While she and Mikhail Baryshnikov were both principal dancers at the American Ballet Theatre, they both applied for the position of Artistic Director in 1980. When Baryshnikov received it, she defected to the Royal Ballet of London.
Her name literally means "Christmas Day".
She danced in a revival of the 1936 ''Slaughter on 10th Avenue'' from Rodgers and Hart, choreographed by George Balanchine.
She was married three times: Once to another dancer, once to a film director and once to an industrialist.
She was one of the few to achieve the honor of "Prima Ballerina Assolutta".
She remarked her favorite partners were Anthony Dowell, Ivan Nagy and Erik Bruhn. A bit surprisingly, Mikhail Baryshnikov didn't even make the list.

Personal Quotes (13)

(On dancing with Anthony Dowell): "We had such chemistry. He's so strong".
(On dancing with Mikhail Baryshnikov): "He suits me. It's like a marriage".
It's a hard life... but if I could, I would do it all again.
Even the ears must dance.
When I joined the ABT, my contract specified that I would be given brand new ballets. Nothing like that ever happened.
I want to be free... free to develop my art.
Dancers, many dancers today can do so much technically. You can give them steps that are complicated, then more complicated, pyrotechnical - and they can execute these steps to perfection. But to do simple steps with a pure classical line, that is truly difficult.
It is a matter of achieving harmonious beauty, which is perhaps the most difficult thing to comprehend, to accept. The dancers here are very good, but I don't think they have been taught that way. But they are open, and very willing to learn.
It was unimaginable to speak onstage, especially in English - even now. Not because of my speaking ability, but because of ... my legs.
(When she returned to the Kirov Ballet and danced with 'Konstantin Zaklinsky'): "It was emotional ecstasy backstage. I was so nervous I was shaking, shaking like I have never done before. I wanted this moment for 18 years. I never dreamed I would be able to dance with the Kirov so soon".
To look back all the time is boring. Excitement lies in tomorrow.
Anyone who can laugh at yourself have comedian possibility. I do not take seriously myself. I can laugh at myself all the time. I didn't have much opportunity in ballet; all my roles are dramatic, mostly tragic. It's the same satisfaction here - even more, because it's so positive. When the public laughs, I feel happy. I really feel excited. More laugh, more you get in high spirit. It's like a drug - it make you high.
(On dancing after her injury): ''It doesn't bother me when I'm dancing, but after a performance, it's difficult for me even to do this [while lifting a glass of water. Her arm sagging.] At end of day, it gets very heavy".

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