Long Live Makarova

April 29, 2012

I think Makarova was overwhelmed by the love and adulation heaped upon her Saturday night by Youth America Grand Prix. The evening was fittingly titled “Ballerina Assoluta: Gala Tribute Honoring the Legendary Natalia Makarova.” We were already cheering at the top of our lungs during the standing ovation, when Kevin McKenzie gestured to Marcelo Gomes and David Hallberg to lift her up high. Then we really went crazy.

Some of the dancers onstage had been coached by her. And whew, what dancers! The idea was that they were reprising some of the roles she was known for. The level of artistry was staggering. Seeing any one of these excerpts would have sated any ballet lover just in itself.

It’s hard to pick highlights, because the level started high and stayed high. The following excerpts provided only some of the breathtaking moments. Yuan Yuan Tan performed an otherworldly White Swan pas de deux with Friedemann Vogel. Tamara Rojo swooned luxuriously in Federico Bonelli’s arms in Ashton’s A Month in the Country. Ashley Bouder gave a sprightly rendition of Robbins’ Other Dances. Maria Kowroski and her killer legs got murdered in Slaughter on Tenth Avenue. Natalia Osipova and Ivan Vasiliev transported us with their second-act Giselle pas de deux. I mean, transported, as in, hard to recover from. Ekaterina Kondaurova was impossibly slinky in Forsythe’s In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated. The lovers of Macmillan’s Manon were ravishingly danced by Diana Vishneva and Marcelo Gomes.

The only problem was the beginnings and endings of the performances got cut off or cut into by the film clips, so we didn’t have time to fully absorb what we had just seen. And yet each clip was delightful. Makarova was so witty and wry—which didn’t surprise me as I had interviewed her here in Dance Magazine.


It was a happy, satisfying night because everyone danced in tribute to a great artist, and everyone rose to the occasion. At the reception, the assoluta said to those gathered, “I thank you and wish you all happiness and good health.”


Check out our slide show of vintage photos of Markarova, and videos of her White Swan pas de deux, Black Swan rehearsal, and excerpts from Onegin (warning: super dramatic.)