Natalia Makarova began her career in her native Leningrad, entering the Vaganova School at the age of thirteen where she was placed in a special experimental class condensing the nine-year program into six. After graduating in 1959, she joined the Kirov Ballet where she rapidly rose to the rank of ballerina, and won the Gold Medal in Varna in 1965.
On September 4, 1970 in London, while on tour with the Kirov, Makarova requested asylum in Britain. She joined American Ballet Theatre making her debut with the Company in Giselle in December, 1970. After that she danced many of the roles in ABT's vast repertoire -- working extensively with Tudor, Balanchine, Robbins and Tetley.
Her association with The Royal Ballet began in 1972 and her repertoire with the company included Swan Lake, Giselle, The Sleeping Beauty, Les Sylphides, Manon, Song of the Earth, Concerto, Cinderella, A Month in the Country, Voluntaries, Dances at a Gathering, Serenade, Elite Syncopations, Rituals, Checkmate and Les Biches. Her most recent appearance with The Royal Ballet was in MacMillan's Romeo and Juliet in January, 1989.
Natalia Makarova has appeared as a guest artist with major ballet companies throughout the world including the Paris Opera Ballet, National Ballet of Canada, Stuttgart Ballet, Royal Danish Ballet, London Festival Ballet, Bejart's Ballet of the 20th Century, and Roland Petit's Ballets de Marseille.
In 1976 she married businessman Edward Karkar and gave birth to her son Andre Michael in February, 1978. She has also written a book A Dance Autobiography, published in 1979.
Natalia Makarova staged the "Kingdom of the Shades" from La Bayadère for American Ballet Theatre in 1974. In 1980, she staged the full-length production of La Bayadère making ABT the first western company to acquire this work. Her production included for the first time since 1919 a reconstruction of the ballet's last act with Makarova's choreography after Marius Petipa.
Her television work includes her much-acclaimed Ballerina Series for the BBC 1987; In a Class of Her Own for Channel 4; Assoluta for the BBC, and her television special Natasha - 1985.
Miss Makarova made her musical comedy debut on Broadway in George Abbot's On Your Toes for which she won the Tony Award as "Best Actress in a Musical" as well as seven additional awards. In 1984, she starred in the West End production of On Your Toes where she won the coveted Laurence Olivier Award.
Natalia Makarova's reunion with the Kirov Ballet took place in London on August 6, 1988 when she danced an excerpt from Swan Lake with the company. Miss Makarova also became the first ever Russian artistic exile to be invited back to dance in her native land. After nineteen years' absence, she performed once again on the Kirov stage on February 1, 1989, an event which was shown as part of a BBC documentary called Makarova Returns.
In 1991, Miss Makarova made her straight acting debut in the play Tovarich at the Chichester Festival in England which was then transferred to the West End. In 1992, she returned to Russia as an actress where she performed in the play Two for the Seesaw in Moscow and St. Petersburg.
Miss Makarova wrote and presented the highly-acclaimed documentary for the BBC Great Railway Journeys series -- St. Petersburg to Tashkent which was shown world-wide in 1994.