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Irek Mukhamedov

(b. 1960)


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(b Kazan, 8 Mar. 1960)

Russian dancer. He studied at the Moscow Ballet School, a pupil of Alexander Prokofiev (1970–8). Upon graduation he joined the Classical Ballet Company, the touring troupe which Moiseyev had founded in 1967. He spent three years with the company, during which he took part in several world tours. It was with this company that he first danced Romeo, which would eventually become one of his signature roles. After winning the Grand Prix at the Moscow International Ballet Competition in 1981, he was invited to join the Bolshoi as principal. There he quickly established himself as Grigorovich's favourite, his athletic, heroic style ideally suited to the choreographer's theatrical vision. He starred in Grigorovich's Spartacus, Ivan the Terrible, and Romeo and Juliet and in 1984 created the role of Boris in Grigorovich's The Golden Age. Foreign tours with the Bolshoi earned Mukhamedov international adulation, and he was widely regarded as the most exciting male dancer of his day. In 1989 he was invited to the Paris Opera to dance the role of the Prince in Nureyev's staging of The Sleeping Beauty. In 1990 he left Russia to join the Royal Ballet at Covent Garden, where his roles included Solor and Romeo. He found a mentor in the choreographer Kenneth MacMillan, who helped to develop the dancer's dramatic range and refine his powerhouse style. MacMillan created Winter Dreams for Mukhamedov (partnering Bussell) in 1991 and The Judas Tree for him in 1992. In addition, Mukhamedov inherited the leading male roles in MacMillan's Manon (1991) and Mayerling (1992). A stocky and muscular dancer, he was never ideally suited to classical prince roles but he none the less distinguished himself in a wide repertoire. He created leading roles in Tharp's Mr Worldly Wise, Ashley Page's Fearful Symmetries, now languorous, now wild, and Cheating, Lying, Stealing, and in William Tuckett's The Turn of the Screw and The Crucible. With Arc Dance Company he created the title roles in Othello (1994) and The Return of Don Juan (1999). In 1998 he left the Royal Ballet, although he continued to appear as a guest artist until 2001. In 1992 he additionally founded the seasonal troupe Irek Mukhamedov and Company, which toured intermittently for several years. Since retiring from the stage he has taught internationally, joining the faculty of Elmhurst Ballet School in 2005. He has staged a new production of Swan Lake for the Polish National Ballet (2001) and a new version of Spartacus for Hong Kong Ballet (2005).

Subjects: Dance.


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