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Natalia Makarova
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    (November 21, 1940- )
    Born in St. Petersburg, Russia
    Prima ballerina with the Kirov Ballet
    Defected in London during a tour (September 4, 1970)
    Performed with the America Ballet Theater and the Royal Ballet
    Best-known roles were Odile in ‘Swan Lake’ and the title role in ‘Giselle’
    Appeared on Broadway in ‘On Your Toes’ (1983)
    A number of ballerinas developed eating disorders trying to match her svelte build.
    When Mikhail Baryshnikov was chosen over her to be the artistic director of the American Ballet Theater, she left to form her own troupe, Makarova and Company, that lasted only one season (1980).
    She was a chain smoker.
    She completed the dance course at the Leningrad Choreographic School in six years instead of the standard nine.
    During the out of town rehearsals for ‘On Your Toes,’ she was struck by a falling prop and hospitalized with injuries to her shoulder and back.
    After recovering, she delivered a performance that won her a Tony, a Drama Desk Award, and a Theater World Award. (And the Laurence Olivier Award when the musical played in London a year later.)
    Mikhail Baryshnikov named her his favorite partner.
    She was the first artistic defector from the Soviet Union allowed to return home and perform, reuniting with the Kirov Ballet at their home theater (1989).

Credit: C. Fishel

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