Natalia Makarova

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Natalia Makarova

Born

11/21/1940

Birth Name

Gender

Female
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Biography

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Named "Prima Ballerina Absoluta" 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,…more

Credits

Trivia and Quotes

  • Trivia

    • Among the cross-training she does for ballet, she practices intensive Pilates, Yoga, swimming and jumping rope.

    • When she danced with fellow Russian defector Rudolph Nureyev at the Paris Opera Ballet, he intentionally let her fall during a live performance due to his frustration with her. She remarked angrily, "I will never dance with that man again."

    • She was the very second Russian dancer of ballet to defect from the Soviet Union. The first was Rudolph Nureyev. She danced with him as well as other Russian defecting danseurs as Mihail Baryshnikov and Alexander Godunov.

    • After retiring from dancing, she sold her costumes and ballet shoes to the Kirov Museum.

    • When she returned to the Soviet Union by invitation in 1989 to dance, she was rewarded with a deafening twenty-minute ovation and numerous bouquets of flowers.


       

    • She retired from dancing due to accumulating injuries, especially to her knees. After she hung up her tights and tutus, she started teaching, choreographing, staging--as well as acting.

    • Her name means "Christmas Day."

    • She had a romance with the renown ballet icon Mikhail Baryshnikov when the two of them lived in their native Russia. Natalia was not only a frequent partner, but also played the part of mentor and mother surrogate after his own mother died. The two had a frequent dependency on one another.

    • She personally planted a cluster of birch trees outside her home. She calls them, "My corps de ballet."

    • Her favorite partners as a ballerina were Anthony Dowell, Ivan Nagy & Erik Bruhn.

    • One of her favorite dancing partners, Ivan Nagy retired especially early--much to her dismay. She danced such parts as "Coppelia" and "Swan Lake" with him. Although he said he was quitting before he began to peak, she felt it was far too soon.

    • Her television work includes the 'Ballerina' Series, which she wrote and presented for the BBC; "Assoluta" (BBC): "Makarova Returns."

    • She danced with Anthony Dowell of the Royal Ballet and he was her favorite partner. She had real romantic feelings for him. Alas, because of his sexual preference he could only offer her friendship at best.

    • She married businessman Edward Karkar in 1976.

    • Natalia was awarded the Laurence Olivier Theatre Award for Best Actress in a Musical for her performance "On Your Toes" in 1985.

    • Natalia won the Gold Medal at the Varna Competition 1965.

    • Natalia wrote "A Dance Autobiography," publsihed in 1979.

    • Her son Andre Michael, was born February 1978.

  • Quotes

    • Natalia: I've been extremely lucky. I would have never danced so many varied parts in Russia. Of course, most inspiring was the work with Jerome Robbins. He mounted Other Dances to Chopin's music for me and Misha Baryshnikov. Robbins was a spontaneous choreographer, a born artist. And of course, MacMillan – I performed Juliet and Manon till the end of my dancing career.

    • Natalia: I am a ballerina. For me ballet has no borders, no barriers – it's a universal art form. I am a dancer of this planet.
      Natalia: It's a huge honor for me. One can never get used to such an honor, when the President himself congratulates you, speaks about you and your career. I am so honored to receive this award, and this day is especially important for me because my son can share it with me.
      Kevin McKenzie: (On Natalia Makarova) She took that great classic and restored it as much as she could to the original conception, distilling it through the years. By doing this, she has also created fabulous dancers. Natasha has no time for someone with a closed mind, but if the dancers demonstrate openness she will do everything she can to make them the best they can be. Over the years' she has had a huge effect on ABT dancers – her example is exquisite. She reshaped the corps de ballet. She made a point that the corps de ballet is the measure of the standard for ballet; if the corps de ballet doesn't breathe, the ballet doesn't work.

    • Natalia: (On the retirement of her favorite partner, Ivan Nagy) It is sad, a great loss. Ivan is in top form; he is quit­ting too soon.

    • Natalia: It is sad, a great loss. Ivan is in top form; he is quit­ting too soon.

    • Natalia: (When she personally defected in London, England) Something tell me this is the moment, I cry like crazy. Cry.
      Natalia: Being spontaneous, it's what saved me.
      Natalia: She didn't look like anybody else. She had that mystery — and extraordinary coordination and freedom and total transparency. I haven't seen any better 'Giselle' than Natasha. It is more interesting. . . . Nobody else has been that deep and tender and arresting and touching — and that powerful.--Mikhail Baryshnikov
      Natalia: I am different because I have better schooling, better understanding of the line, gesture, how feet working, positions. They taught me modern things . . . and I wanted to give what I had: my schooling.

    • Natalia Makarova: Natalia:I don't keep my secrets or my knowledge to myself.
      Natalia Makarova: Natalia:I travel like a gypsy, and I didn't know how I could perform and be a mother.
      Natalia Makarova: Natalia:You cannot dance an arabesque in 'Swan Lake' and 'Nutcracker' the same way.
      Natalia Makarova: Natalia:I recently learn a new word: insatiable. That's me.
      Natalia Makarova: Natalia:It's not possible to be perfect - you can always do something better. I'm never proud of what I've done. Sometimes, I'm not ashamed.
      Natalia Makarova: Natalia:I really feel sorry for new generation. It's hard to find backbone. I never had crisis of identity. But I think many Americans have it.
      Natalia Makarova: Natalia:My style is the Russian style. I am very loyal to my school. All I do is transport it.
      Natalia Makarova: Natalia:All of the very important events in my life happen by chance.

    • Natalia Makarova: Dance involves physicality, it involves spirituality and even brains.
      Natalia Makarova: It's a hard life... but if I could, I would do it all again.
      Natalia Makarova: Even the ears must dance.
      Natalia Makarova: When I joined the ABT, my contract specified that I would be given brand new ballets. Nothing like that ever happened.
      Natalia Makarova: I want to be free... free to develop my art.
      Natalia Makarova: 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.
      Natalia Makarova: 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.
      Natalia Makarova: It was unimaginable to speak onstage, especially in English - even now. Not because of my speaking ability, but because of ... my legs.
      Natalia Makarova: To look back all the time is boring. Excitement lies in tomorrow.

    • Natalia Makarova: It was unimaginable to speak onstage, especially in English - even now. Not because of my speaking ability, but because of ... my legs.

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