Maina Gielgud

Maina Gielgud

Maina Gielgud (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 and is that company's longest serving director to date. 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.


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 Goube, 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 Premiere Danseuse until 1967. Until 1971 she was the principal artist at the Ballet du XXeme Siecle Maurice Bejart. 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:

Maina 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 Maina’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. In 1992, at Government House, Melbourne, she was appointed an Honoury Officer in the General Division of the Order of Australia in recognition of her contribution to the performing arts, and particularly ballet. She has also been the recipient of an Advance Australia award.

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

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


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