Maiden Tower: First ballet in Azerbaijan & Muslim East [PHOTO]
By Laman Ismayilova
Ballet art traces back to the Italian Renaissance (XV-XVI centuries) when it was developed as court entertainment. The dance quickly spread from Italy to France with the help of Catherine de' Medici. The court ballet eventually grew in size and opulence.
Even today, ballet dance continues to spark the imagination of those who are besotted with this beautiful art form.
Maiden Tower was the first ballet ever to be produced in Azerbaijan and the Muslim East.
Based on the motives of the eponymous poem by a prominent playwright Jafar Jabbarli, it consists of three acts with a prologue and epilogue. Afrasiyab Badalbeyli is the author of the music and libretto.
The premiere took place in 1940 at the Azerbaijan State Academic Opera and Ballet Theater while the ballet's new version was presented in 1999.
The new version did not include Soviet propaganda the previous version did. Yulanda Alikishizada was the author of the new version.
Madina Aliyeva and Gulaghasi Mirzoyev danced the main parts. Farhad Badalbeyli was the author of the revised score. Azerbaijan State Song and Dance Ensemble performed the ballet under the guidance of Afag Malikova.
The ballet is based on a legend about the Maiden Tower, a historical landmark, which dates back to the 12th century.
Gamar Almaszada went down in history as the nation's first ballerina.
The Maiden Tower was composed specifically for Gamar by her husband, Afrasiyab Badalbeyli. At the age of 25, she performed the lead role in the ballet. During her career, she successfully toured France, India, and Nepal.
The emergence and development of Azerbaijani ballet started at that time. Furthermore, ballets like Gulshan (1950) by Soltan Hajibayov, Seven Beauties' (1952) by Gara Garayev, Along the Thundering Ways (1958) by Fikrat Amirov, Nizami (1947), and 1001 Nights'' (1979) by Niyazi, The Legend of Love (1961) by Arif Malikov and many others made Azerbaijani music recognizable worldwide.
Ballet dancers Gamar Almaszada, Leyla Vakilova, Alasgar Abdullayev, Rafiqa Axundova, Magsud Mammadov, Vladimir Pletnev, Chimnaz Babayeva, Medina Aliyeva, Tatyana Sukhorukova, Zaur Fatullayev, and others demonstrated Azerbaijani ballet art in all its beauty.
Today, Azerbaijani ballet continues to grow in scale, drawing the attention of large audiences. National ballet dancers successfully perform at some of the world's best opera houses.
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