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Final dance for Russia's Bolshoi ballet legend

LEGENDARY Russian ballerina Ekaterina Maximova, who graced the stage of the Bolshoi Theater for 30 years, died yesterday. She was 70.

The theater said Maximova died at home but the cause of death was not known. She had been working as a ballet coach and was not known to be suffering from ill health.

Ballet directors and President Dmitry Medvedev praised Maximova's work as an artist and a teacher of young ballerinas, and mourned a great loss to Russia.

Maximova's dancing career at the Bolshoi spanned three decades, from her debut as Masha in "The Nutcracker" in 1958 until 1988.

Called "Ekaterina the Great," or Catherine the Great, for her impeccable technique and versatility, she danced most of the major female roles of classical ballet and also experimented with avant-garde dance.

Her partner on the stage and in life was her husband, Vladimir Vasiliev.

"This is an irretrievable loss," current artistic director Yuri Burlaka said. "All Russians will mourn and remember this great ballerina."

Bolshoi ballet master Boris Akimov said he was shaken by the death of Maximova, who had been at a meeting of ballet coaches on Sunday.

"She was full of energy and enthusiasm," Akimov said.

"She was happy and active and made many serious, sensible artistic suggestions. And in the evening she was at her beloved ballet 'Spartacus,' where for many years she shone in the main female role."


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