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234th Season

Altynai Asylmuratova

Artistic director of the academy

In the final decades of the 20th century, once the craze for Russian ballet, mainly caused by the first revealing appearances in the West of the Bolshoi and Kirov companies, but also by the defection of several Soviet dancers in the sixties and seventies, had subsided and was supplanted by a general indifference toward Russian schooled artists, there were only a handful of Russian dancers who really made a name for themselves in the West. Altynai Asylmuratova of the Kirov Ballet is one of them.

In 1988 she was the first Kirov ballerina (with long-time partner Farukh Ruzimatov) to be allowed to guest with an American company, American Ballet Theatre. Quickly recognized as one of the Kirov‘s most intensely fascinating talents in years, Altynai Asylmuratova, combining superb schooling with a rare expressive power and compelling beauty spiced with an air of exoticism, arrived as a refreshing wind on the international stage and gave Western audiences a virtually ideal vision of Russian ballet in the late 20th century. Many consider her the last great ballerina in the long and illustrious St. Petersburg lineage.

Born in 1961 in Alma-Ata, Kazakhstan, into a family of dancers, Altynai Asylmuratova was in a way destined to become a dancer. She studied at the Vaganova Academy in Leningrad and graduated as a pupil of Inna Zubkovskaya. At graduation in 1978 she joined the Kirov Ballet, to become a principal in 1982.

At the Kirov she worked mainly with Olga Moiseyeva, who played a crucial role in her artistic development, preparing her for her first major parts like Swan Lake. Moiseyeva would remain her coach for the whole of Asylmuratova‘s career. With the Kirov Ballet Asylmuratova has danced all the major 19th-century ballerina roles (Giselle, Odette-Odile, Nikiya, Aurora, Masha, Kitri, Raymonda), as well as ballets of Fokine (Chopiniana, The Firebird, Sheherazade) and some of the great Soviet dram-ballets (Romeo and Juliet, The Fountain of Bakhchisarai).

She was moreover largely succesful in mastering Western choreographic styles, giving further proof of her versatility and especially finding an additional outlet for her dramatic talent in the work of Frederick Ashton, Kenneth MacMillan, and Roland Petit.

The altered political situation in the early nineties allowed Altynai Asylmuratova to guest extensively in the West (foremost with ABT, the Royal Ballet, the Paris Opera Ballet, and the Ballet National de Marseille of Roland Petit) and satisfy her artistic curiosity without ever having to detach herself completely from the Kirov.Her hugely acclaimed appearances with Western companies as well as her tours with her home company resulted in the bizarre situation that Asylmuratova‘s fame and popularity was far more prominent in the West than in her homeland.

In January 2000 she was named Artistic Director of the Vaganova Ballet Academy, a nomination which eventually ended her active performing career.

Altynai Asylmuratova is an Honoured Artist of the Russian Federation (1983) and a People‘s Artist of Russia (2001). In 1998 she was awarded the Baltika Prize for her outstanding achievement in ballet and in 1999 she received ‘The Golden Sophit‘, the highest theatrical award in St. Petersburg for her interpretation of Roland Petit‘s Carmen.
Her repertoire includes:

With the Kirov Ballet
title role in La Sylphide
title role in Giselle
Odette-Odile in Swan Lake
Nikiya in La Bayadere
Lilac Fairy in The Sleeping Beauty
Aurora in The Sleeping Beauty
Masha in The Nutcracker
Kitri in Don Quixote
soloist in Esmeralda Pas de Six
title role in Raymonda
Medora in Le Corsaire
soloist in Paquita Grand Pas
Fanny Cerrito in Pas de Quatre
Zobeide in Sheherazade
title role in The Firebird
soloist in Chopiniana
Shirin in Legend of Love
Mekhmene Banu in Legend of Love
Zarema in The Fountain of Bakhchisarai
Juliet in Romeo and Juliet (chor. Lavrovsky)
Aegina in Spartacus (chor. Jakobson)
Caroline in Le jardin aux lilas (chor. Tudor)
Terpsichore in Apollo
soloist in Theme and Variations
1st movement of In The Night
title role in Carmen (chor. Petit)
title role in Manon (chor. MacMillan)

With the American Ballet Theatre
Nikiya in La Bayadere

With the Royal Ballet
Natalia in A Month in the Country (chor. Ashton)
title role in Manon (chor. MacMillan)
Juliet in Romeo and Juliet (chor. MacMillan)

With the Ballet National de Marseille (all chor. by Roland Petit)
title role in Coppelia
Le Guepard
title role in Carmen
‘Elle‘ in Le Lac des Cygnes et ses malefices

"An interview with Altynai Asylmuratova"Copyright © 2000-2005 Marc Haegeman. All rights reserved.

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