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By Wendy Perron
The ballet world can feel cozily included in American culture when the Kennedy Center honorees include Natalia Makarova next to Dustin Hoffman and David Letterman. If it doesn’t make her a household name, it brings ballet closer to American families.
There’s been a string of tributes to the great ballerina lately. Ours was in the May 2010 issue, marking 40 years since her defection and the 30 since her staging of La Bayadère. Click here for my interview with her at that time. (She received a Dance Magazine Award much earlier, in 1977.)
And last spring Youth America Grand Prix honored her with their gala. Click here to find out which of today’s superstars danced in her honor.
And now, the Kennedy Center has honored Makarova. The list of dancers who performed in tribute to her last night is a knockout combo of ABT and NYCB dancers: Julie Kent (who receives her Dance Magazine Award today!), Marcelo Gomes, Angel Corella, Alina Cojocaru, David Hallberg, Tiler Peck, and Veronica Part. Keep your eye on our blog space because NYCB principal dancer (and our stunning June cover subject) Sara Mearns will be writing an on-the-ground report of that event. The gala evening will air on CBS on Wednesday, Dec. 26 at 9PM EST/PST—check your local listings.
And, to give you an idea of Makarova's own sense of giving tribute, read what Natasha herself wrote about her first dance partner, Nikita Dalgushin, who passed away last summer. —Wendy Perron
Makarova in Robbins' Other Dances. Photo by Max Waldman.