Natalia Makarova is a prima ballerina who was born in Russia in 1940. In 1970, whilst on tour with the Kirov Ballet in London, she defected to the West and subsequently became a dancer with the American Ballet Theatre in New York, and the Royal Ballet in London. She was also able to return to Russia on two occasions in the late 1980s to dance again with the Kirov.
Apart from her career as a dancer, she has also worked as an actress in both musical comedy and more serious roles, and as a choreographer and stager of ballets. Her memoir, A Dance Autobiography, was published in 1979, and in 2012, she was the recipient of a Kennedy Centre Honour for her lifetime contribution to the performing arts.