Natalia Makarova, 1940–, Russian ballet dancer, b. Leningrad (now St. Petersburg). She studied at the Choreographic School in her native city, graduating in 1959, and joined the Kirov Ballet. During her career there (1959–70) she won acclaim for her superb technique and her ability to capture character in such classical ballets as Giselle (probably her most famous role), Swan Lake, and Sleeping Beauty. In London (1970) on one of Kirov's European tours, Makarova, citing a need for artistic freedom, announced her intention to stay in the West. Later that year she joined the American Ballet Theatre, where she danced both classical and contemporary works, and in 1974 first staged La Bayadère. During the 1970s and 80s, she also performed as a guest artist with several European companies. In 1980 she founded her own group, with whom, for a season, she presented a variety of works. Makarova made her Broadway debut in 1983 in the musical On Your Toes, for which she won a Tony Award. In 1989 she returned briefly to Russia, where she danced with the Kirov. She retired from dancing later that year and has since performed several times as an actress.
See her A Dance Autobiography (1979).