Defector Makarova to Dance in U.S.S.R.; Baryshnikov Next?

In yet another instance of glasnost in the dance world, Natalia Makarova will become the first Soviet dancer-defector to return to the Soviet Union. Mikhail Baryshnikov may be next.

Makarova will perform with the Kirov Ballet in Leningrad on Thursday and again on Feb. 1, according to her agent in London. Baryshnikov will take his American Ballet Theatre to the Soviet Union in November, according to a source close to the dancer.

Makarova, 48, who was dancing with Britain’s Royal Ballet on Friday and could not be reached for comment, defected from the Soviet Union in 1970 while performing with the Kirov in London. She had joined the Leningrad-based company in 1959.

“She is terribly excited about all these goings on,” said Makarova’s London agent, Sander Gorlinsky.


Baryshnikov, ABT artistic director, will be on his first return visit since defecting in 1974. Although the Soviet government had invited Baryshnikov, 40, back two years ago, he chose not return until he could bring his ballet company with him. The ABT visit would be the company’s first since 1970.

According to Makarova’s husband, San Francisco businessman Edward Karkar: “This is very exciting--it’s a new period (in the dance world), and she has been welcomed by the (Soviet) ambassador in London and the director of the Kirov. . . . They are making it very pleasant for her.”

Karkar said he would be accompanying Makarova on her visit to the Soviet Union, which will include a reunion with her mother, whom she has not seen in 18 years. In her Kirov appearances, Makarova is scheduled to dance a pas de deux from John Cranko’s “Onegin.”

“Obviously it’s a very emotional (time for Makarova),” said her New York agent Robert Lantz, who added that the dancer would arrive in Leningrad on Monday in time for the Leningrad Film Festival to show two segments of her award-winning British Broadcasting Corp. miniseries, “Ballerina.”

This will not be Makarova’s first reunion with her former company, however. In early August, she became the first Soviet defector to perform with a Soviet company when she joined the Kirov in London to dance the Act II adagio from “Swan Lake.” In 1987, Makarova, who has danced extensively in the United States with American Ballet Theatre, appeared on the same program with two Kirov dancers in a Vancouver benefit for Ballet British Columbia.

In a statement to the British press shortly after her defection, Makarova said she left her native country to seek artistic freedom and the chance to dance new roles and modern works. “I shall never forget that the Kirov made me, and I shall remain indebted to them for the rest of my life,” she had said.

These events come after a series of recent East-West dance exchanges, which have included guest appearances by Soviet dancers with a number of American companies, Andris Liepa of the Bolshoi joining ABT as a principal dancer this season and ABT principal Susan Jaffe dancing two performances with the Kirov last November.