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The Azerbaijani ballet originated in 1940, with the creation of the Maiden Tower ballet by Afrasiyab Badalbeyli. During that period, ballet was a relatively new genre for Azerbaijani spectators, but Maiden Tower managed to attract a large audience. It notably featured the first Azerbaijani ballerina, Gamar Almaszadeh, Badalbeyli's wife at the time.
The ballet Gulshan written by Soltan Hajibeyov was the second ballet staged successfully at the Azerbaijan State Academic Opera and Ballet Theater in 1950.
Dancers such as Gamar Almaszadeh, Leyla Vakilova, Konstantin Batashov, Rafiga Akhundova, Vladimir Pletnyov and Chimnaz Babayeva made great contributions in Azerbaijani ballet. In addition, directors such as Ismayil Hidayetzade, Mehdi Mammadov, Adil Isgandarov, Sultan Dadashov and Firudin Safarov and conductors such as Niyazi, Ashraf Hasanov, Ahad Israfilzade, Rauf Abdullayev and Kamal Abdullayev also contributed to the development of Azerbaijani ballet.
In 1969, dancers of the Azerbaijan State Academic Opera and Ballet Theater were awarded a diploma by the Paris Dance Academy at the International Dance Festival held at Champs-Élysées theater in Paris.
In 2010, the Azerbaijan State Academic Opera and Ballet Theater celebrated its 100th anniversary.
The most important ballets in the Azerbaijani repertoire include:
- Maiden Tower by Afrasiyab Badalbeyli
- Smiling Man by Afrasiyab Badalbeyli
- Garaja by Afrasiyab Badalbeyli
- Tarlan by Afrasiyab Badalbeyli (children ballet)
- Seven Beauties by Gara Garayev
- The Path of Thunder by Gara Garayev
- Leyli and Majnun by Gara Garayev
- Arabian Nights by Fikret Amirov
- Nizami by Fikret Amirov
- The Legend of Nasimi by Fikret Amirov
- Caspian Conquerors by Fikret Amirov
- The Legend of Love by Arif Malikov
- Stronger than Death by Arif Malikov
- Twain by Arif Malikov
- Poem of Two Hearts by Arif Malikov
- Whites and Blacks by Khayyam Mirzezadeh
- Love and Death by Polad Bülbüloğlu
- Rafiga Akhundova
- Madina Aliyeva
- Gamar Almaszadeh
- Chimnaz Babayeva
- Gulaghasy Mirzayev
- Tamilla Shiraliyeva
- Leyla Vakilova
- Khumar Zulfugarova
- "Müsəlman Şərqində ilk balet". ocaz.eu (in Azerbaijani). Retrieved 29 June 2014.
- Shahverdiyev, Karim. "Azərbaycan baletini yaradısı, səhnəmizin şahzadəsi Qəmər xanım Almaszadə". www.musigi-dunya.az (in Azerbaijani). Retrieved 29 June 2014.
- Almaszade, Gamar. "My Life as Azerbaijan's First Ballerina". www.azer.com. Azerbaijan International. Retrieved 29 June 2014.
- Sharifov, Azad. "Remembering Gara Garayev". www.azer.com. Retrieved 29 June 2014.
- "Qəmər Almaszadə". adam.az.
- АЗЕРБАЙДЖАНСКИЙ БАЛЕТ в энциклопедии балета. www.ballet-enc.ru (in Russian). Retrieved 29 June 2014.
- Азербайджанский театр оперы и балета. www.belcanto.ru (in Russian). Retrieved 29 June 2014.
- Maclachlan, Fiona. "Happy Hundredth! Azerbaijan's State Theatre of Opera and Ballet Approaches its Centenary". www.visions.az. Retrieved 28 October 2014.
- Gusman, Carolina. "SD Ballet premieres 'Seven Beauties'". www.utsandiego.com. Retrieved 28 October 2014.
- "Azerbaijani Ballet 'Seven Beauties' premieres in the United States to great acclaim". www.prnewswire.com. Retrieved 28 October 2014.