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Natalia Makarova performing 'The Dying Swan' by Camille Saint-Saens

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Published on Dec 16, 2009

Natalia Makarova was born in Leningrad in former Soviet Russia. At the age of 12, she auditioned for the Leningrad Choreographic School (formerly the Imperial Ballet School), and was accepted although most students join the school at the age of 10. She was a permanent member of the Kirov Ballet in Leningrad from 1956 to 1970, achieving prima ballerina status during the 1960s. Soon after Makarova defected to the West in 1970, she began performing with the American Ballet Theatre in New York and the Royal Ballet in London. At first she was eager to expand her choreography by dancing ballets by modern choreographers. She remained most identified with classical roles such as Odette/Odile in Swan Lake and Giselle; she was featured in the 1976 live American Ballet Theatre production of Swan Lake, simulcast from Lincoln Center on both PBS and NPR. Makarova continued to excel in many different roles.[1] most notably, her title role in Giselle. She was slim and slight, and combined a delicacy and lyricism with impeccable classical training.
Makarova: "Her performances set standards of artistry and aristocracy of dance which mark her as the finest ballerina of her generation in the West".
In 1976 Makarova married Edward Karkar, a businessman. Together they had a son, Andre Michael, in February 1978.
In 1989, Natalia Makarova returned to her home theater of the Kirov Ballet and was reunited with her family and with former colleagues and teachers, and family. Her emotional homecoming was documented in the film Makarova Returns. After her performance at the Kirov, she retired from dancing, donating her shoes and costumes to the Kirov Museum. Today Makarova stages ballets such as Swan Lake, La Bayadère, and Sleeping Beauty for companies across the world.
In addition to being an internationally renowned ballerina, Makarova won a Tony Award for her performance in the show On Your Toes. She appeared as Lydia Lopokova (Lady Keynes) in Wooing in Absence, compiled by Patrick Garland. It was first performed at Charleston Farmhouse and then at the Tate Britain.

***

Charles-Camille Saint-Saëns (1835 1921) was a French composer, organist, conductor, and pianist, known especially for The Carnival of the Animals, Danse Macabre, Samson and Delilah, Havanaise, Introduction and Rondo capriccioso, and his Symphony No. 3 (Organ Symphony).
Saint-Saëns began his musical career as a musical pioneer, introducing to France the symphonic poem and championing the radical works of Liszt and Wagner at a time when Bach and Mozart were the norms. By the dawn of the 20th century, Saint-Saëns was an ultra-conservative, fighting the influence of Debussy and Richard Strauss. This is hardly surprising—Saint-Saëns' career began while Chopin and Mendelssohn were in their prime, and ended at the commencement of the Jazz Age; but his image endured for years after his death.
As a composer, Saint-Saëns was often criticized for his refusal to embrace romanticism and at the same time, rather paradoxically, for his adherence to the conventions of 19th-century musical language. He is remembered chiefly for works such as Le Carnaval des Animaux, which was not published in full until after his death; the Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso for violin and orchestra, the operas Samson and Delilah and Henry VIII (of which only the first is frequently performed today), the Symphony No. 3; the second, fourth and fifth piano concertos; the third violin concerto; the first cello concerto; and the first violin sonata.
Saint-Saëns' early start and his long life provided him with time to write hundreds of compositions; during his career, he wrote many dramatic works, including four symphonic poems, and thirteen operas, of which Samson et Dalila and the symphonic poem Danse Macabre are among his most famous. In all, he composed over 300 works and was the first major composer to write music specifically for the cinema, for Henri Lavedan's film The Assassination of the Duke of Guise (Op. 128, 1908).[2]
Saint-Saëns wrote five symphonies, although only three of these are numbered. He withdrew the first, written for a Mozartian-scale orchestra, and the third, a competition piece. His symphonies are a significant contribution to the genre during a period when the French symphonic tradition was otherwise in decline. Saint-Saëns also contributed voluminously to the French concertante literature; he wrote five piano concertos, three violin concertos, two cello concertos, and about twenty smaller concertante works for soloist and orchestra, including a colorfully orchestrated piano fantasy, Africa; the Havanaise and the Introduction and Rondo capriccioso for violin and orchestra; and the Morceau de Concert for harp and orchestra. Of the concertos, the Second Piano concerto is one of the most popular of virtuoso piano concertos, and the Third Violin Concerto and First Cello Concerto also remain popular.
(Wikipedia)

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