Maina Gielgud

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Maina Gielgud
Born (1945-01-14) 14 January 1945 (age 73)
London, England
Occupation Ballet dancer

Maina Gielgud AO (born London; 14 January 1945) is a former British ballet dancer and a veteran ballet administrator. She was artistic director of the Australian Ballet from 1983 to 1996. She had a twenty-year career as a dancer in Europe and the United Kingdom. Gielgud directed the Royal Danish Ballet between 1997 and 1999. Until 2005, she held the artistic associate position at the Houston Ballet. She is a daughter of Lewis Gielgud and actress Zita Gordon and niece of actor John Gielgud.


From 1952-1955, Gielgud trained in London and Paris with such artists as George Gontcharov, Olga Preobrajenska, Tamara Karsavina, Lydia Kyasht, Nadine Nicolaeva-Legat, Stanislas Idzikovski and Rachel Cameron. From 1956-1961, Gielgud trained in Cannes, Monte Carlo and Paris with such artists as Julie Sedova, Lubov Egorova, Victor Gsovski, Mischa Reznikov, Paul Goubé, Rosella Hightower and Marika Besobrasova. From 1961-1962 she danced in the corps de ballet of the Ballet de Roland Petit. In 1962 she was a member of the corps de ballet of the Grand Ballet du Marquis de Cuevas before dancing as a soloist in 1962 with the Ballet de l'Etoile de Milorad Miskovitch. In 1963 she was a soloist for the Hommage au Marquis de Cuevas before joining the Grand Ballet Classique de France as Première Danseuse until 1967. Until 1971 she was the principal artist at the Ballet du XXème Siècle Maurice Béjart. For two years she was the principal artist at the Staatsoper Ballet Berlin. She then joined the London Festival Ballet until 1976. She became a principal artist with the Sadlers Wells Royal Ballet until 1978. In the years 1975-1981 she was the guest artist with the following companies:

Gielgud joined London Festival Ballet as a Principal Artist in 1972. During her four years there her repertoire included Swan Lake, Giselle, The Sleeping Beauty, Don Quixote, The Nutcracker and Le Baiser de la Fée, which was created for her. In 1976 she joined The Royal Ballet’s touring company, now Birmingham Royal Ballet, as a guest artist before joining as a Principal Artist in 1977. With this Company her roles included the Black Queen in Checkmate, the Siren in Prodigal Son, Swanilda in Coppélia and the Gypsy Girl in The Two Pigeons.

From 1977 Gielgud's career as a freelance dancer took her to Hungary, France, Germany, America, Belgium and Australia. She continued to dance until 1981 when she retired from dancing and became Rehearsal Director of London City Ballet.

In 1983, she was appointed Artistic Director of The Australian Ballet. During her 14 years there she introduced over 40 classical and modern works to the Company’s repertoire. On 8 February 1991 she was appointed an Honorary Officer of the Order of Australia in recognition of her contribution to the performing arts, and particularly ballet.[1] She has also been the recipient of an Advance Australia award.

From 1997 to 1999 Gielgud was Artistic Director of The Royal Danish Ballet, where she brought many new works to the company. Since 1999, Gielgud has been freelance and has taught, coached and staged works for several different companies including English National Ballet, Bejart Ballet Lausanne, Tokyo Ballet, Boston Ballet, and Ballet du Rhin.

In August 2008 she performed her farewell to dancing in The Exquisite Hour at the Theatre Royal in Sydney, Australia. This piece was reworked extensively by Maurice Béjart, specifically for Gielgud.

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