#TBT: Natalia Makarova in “Raymonda”

The third act variation from Raymonda is deceptively simple–legato and heavy on bourrées and épaulement, it has few pirouettes or showy extensions. Instead, the piece calls for artistry and aristocratic command in order to convey the character's regal persona and the dance's Hungarian flavor. Soviet prima ballerina Natalia Makarova is legendary for her emotive, passionate performances. She interprets the variation with rich soulfulness, flowing through positions with sinuous, unfurling limbs. Her feet tremble like the piano keys as she bourrées, surging and slowing with the tempo. Throughout the variation, her lifted sternum and sophisticated épaulement drum up drama that culminates in her final pose with her head tossed completely back over her shoulder.


Makarova's stardom flourished, both onstage and personally, because of her daring artistic choices. She defected from the Soviet Union in 1970, leaving her home and position at the Kirov (now Mariinsky) Ballet for new opportunities in the West. She danced with American Ballet Theatre, then The Royal Ballet, and continues to shares her gifts and vision as a coach.

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