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Last Updated: Monday, 29 March, 2004, 08:42 GMT 09:42 UK
Russian dance star dies aged 88
Bolshoi Ballet Theatre
Golovkina danced for the Bolshoi from 1933 to 1960
Russian ballet star Sofia Golovkina has died aged 88, the Bolshoi Ballet Theatre has announced.

Golovkina, who danced for the Bolshoi for nearly three decades and directed its school for more than 40 years, died on 17 February.

She began her career at the Bolshoi in 1933, performing in roles such as Aurora in Sleeping Beauty.

She became director of the Moscow Academic Choreography School in 1960 and retired in 2001.

One of Golovkina's most controversial roles was in the ballet Bright Stream, which was denounced by the Communist Party newspaper Pravda in 1936 and removed from the Bolshoi's repetoire.

Soviet ballet was under pressure to conform to Josef Stalin's concepts of "socialist realism" at a time when abstract art was seen as decadent.

Dmitry Shostakovich and Fyodor Lopukhov's ballet, about a dancer who comes to a collective farm to introduce high art to the workers, met with disapproval.

In her later work at the school, Golovkina complained that state funding for the Bolshoi had dried up after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Bolshoi Ballet in Moscow
The ballet received a cash boost in 2002

She promoted the school across the world and established an academy branch in the the US town of Vail, Colorado.

"You used to steal Russian stars. The time has come for you to create your own," Golovkina told the Associated Press news agency in a 1993 interview in Vail.

Russian newspapers described her as a tough headteacher in reports after her death.

Her tenure "wasn't just a directorship, it was a dictatorship," said newspaper Vremya Novostei the day after she died.

Another paper, Nezavisimaya Gazeta, said she was "Odette (from Swan Lake) with an iron character."

The Bolshoi, based in Moscow, is one of the world's most famous ballet theatres.

It received $180m (82m) from the Russian Government for refurbishment in 2002 - the renovation is expected to be completed by 2007.

The Bolshoi has seen several management changes in recent years, as it struggled to maintain its international reputation despite financial problems and a lack of clear artistic direction.

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