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Russian ballet star Maximova dies at 70


MOSCOW, April 28 (RIA Novosti) - The Bolshoi Theater's former prima ballerina Yekaterina Maximova died at the age of 70 in her Moscow apartment early on Tuesday, the theater's spokesperson said.

"The outstanding ballerina of the modern era, Yekaterina Maximova, died in her apartment during the night," Yekaterina Novikova said, adding the cause of the death was not known.

Maximova made a stunning debut at the Bolshoi at the age of 16, playing Masha in Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker, while she was studying at a choreography school.

She formally joined the theater in 1958 after graduating from the school, and performed there for 30 years, playing lead roles in Giselle, Shopeniana, The Stone Flower, Sleeping Beauty, Don Quixote, Swan Lake, Spartacus, Romeo and Juliet, and other ballets.

Maximova performed for many years in a famed duet with Vladimir Vasiliyev, her husband and former classmate. International media hailed them as the "golden" and "unrivaled" duet of 20th century ballet.

Vasiliyev, later a popular producer who regularly staged productions for his wife, was on a trip abroad when she died, the Bolshoi spokeswoman said.

The ballerina was renowned for her powerful stage presence, virtuoso technique, and versatility, allowing her to perform in a broad repertoire of ballets.

Maximova graced stages around the world, working with renowned choreographers. Internationally, she is best remembered for playing Juliet in Maurice Bejart's production of Romeo and Juliet, Rosa in Roland Petit's highly acclaimed The Blue Angel, and Tatyana in John Cranco's Onegin.

A leading Bolshoi dancer expressed surprise at Maximova's death, saying she had seemed in good health.

"I was shocked and could not believe it," Nikolai Tsiskaridze told reporters. "She was busy with rehearsals only yesterday or the day before, and looked absolutely healthy."

"This is terrible. It is too early, she was full of energy. It is unjust," the dancer said, calling Maximova's death a great personal loss to him, as well as to her former students.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has expressed condolences to Vasiliyev and the Bolshoi company.

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