Irek Mukhamedov was born in Kazan in 1960. He trained at
the Moscow Choreographic Institute. In 1981 he won the Grand Prix
and Gold Medal at the International Ballet Competition in Moscow
and was immediately invited to join the Bolshoi Ballet, where he
became the youngest man ever to dance the leading role in Spartacus.
For nine years he was the Bolshoi's leading male dancer. His repetoire
included Ivan the Terrible, Don Quixote, Swan Lake, Romeo and
Juliet, Giselle, Raymonda and Legend of Love.
Yuri Grigorovich created the leading role in The Golden Age
In 1988 he was awarded the Hans Christian Anderson Prize for Best
Dancer in the World.
In 1990 he made the decision to leave Russia and join the Royal
Ballet in London. His arrival inspired Kenneth Macmillan to create
a new pas de deux for him and Darcy Bussell which was performed
at the Queen Mother's 90th Birthday Tribute. This pas de deux became
part of the one-act ballet Winter Dreams (based on Chekov's
The Three Sisters), which was subsequently filmed for television
and transmitted on the BBC at Christmas 1992. He has appeared on
numerous television talk shows and has been the subject of a one
hour Omnibus documentary (1991) and London Weekend Television's
The South Bank Show (2002).
For the Royal Ballet he has danced not only the traditional classics
such as The Nutcracker, Raymonda Act III, La Bayadère,
Swan Lake and Giselle, but also many modern works by
the Royal Ballet's own choreographers. In Manon he danced
both the leading male roles in the space of one week, made an unforgettable
impression in David Bintley's Cyrano, took the role of Hero
in Frederick Ashton's ever popular La Fille Mal Gardée,
and in 1992 created the leading male role in Macmillan's The
1992 saw him make his debut in Macmillan's Romeo and Juliet to
universal acclaim, and thrilled London audiences with his debut
in Macmillan's Mayerling (also filmed for television). In
1993 he danced in Balancine's Apollo and made his debut in
the same choreographer's Prodigal Son. In 1994 Ashley Page created
the lead role in Fearful Symmetries for him, and in 1995
Twyla Tharp was so impressed by his talent that she chose him for
one of the lead roles in her first full length ballet for the Royal
Ballet Company, Mr Worldly Wise.
In 1999 he appeared for the second time with Arc Dance Company where
Kim Brandstrup created the leading role in The Return of Don
Juan for him. The same year saw him create the role of Peter
Quint in William Tuckett's ballet The Turn of the Screw.
In 2001 he was invited to make a special guest appearance in Lorka
Massine's Zorbo with the Polish National Ballet in Warsaw.
Irek made his first non-dancing debut as the King of Siam in the
King and I for the Covent Garden Festival in the summer of
He was voted Dancer of the Year (1992) by the readers of the prestigious
British magazine Dance and Dancers (only the third ever male
recipient of the award) and in the same year was voted Dancer of
the Year by the national newspaper The Independent On Sunday.
Still in the same year he awarded the London Evening Standard Award
for Dance and the Gino Tani Dance Award in Italy.
In 1996 he won the Benois de la Dance Prize in Paris, and in 1998
he was awarded the Nijinsky Medal and invited to become President
of the Legat Society. In January 2000 he was awarded the OBE in
the New Years Honours List.
In April 1992 Irek led his own small group Royal Ballet Dancers
called Irek Mukhamedov and Company, and gave three performances
(in Northampton, Oxford and Bradford) to great acclaim. In 1993
the group performed in Bilbao, Spain and in 1994 they made their
London debut at the Sadler's Wells Theatre. For the London season
Mukhamedov invited Kim Brandstrup and Arc Theatre Company to join
him. Kim Brandstrup created a new ballet for Mukhamedov, Othello,
in which for the first time he danced with a contemporary dance
company. Othello subsequently received the Evening Standard
Award for Dance.
The company also appeared at Hampton Court Palace, London, and Russian
choreographer Natalia Volkova was invited to create a new ballet,
Rasputin. 1998 saw them appear at the Bustan Festival of
Music and Arts in Beirut. 1999 they returned to the Sadlers Wells
Theatre in London for a full week, which was a huge success. The
year 2000 had the company invited to dance two performances at the
Kuopio Dance Festival, Finland, and return to Sadlers Wells for
a further successful week.
More recently Irek Mukhamedov has developed yet another facet of
his career, for in May 2001 the Polish National Ballet gave the
Premiere of his production of Swan Lake, a new conception
of this enormously popular ballet which saw the introduction of
his own choreography, including a moving pas de deux for
the Prince and Odette in the last act.
In September 2001 Irek directed a Ballet Gala at the London Coliseum
in aid of Childrens Charities, for this he choreographed Sabres
'n' Roses for the children of the Arts Educational School in
Tring, and Four Horsemen for himself and other dancers.