Company Artist Natalia Ashikhmina gives farewell performance

Natalia Ashikhmina, beloved Louisville Ballet Artist, retires after 18 seasons.

LOUISVILLE, KY — After 18 seasons with Louisville Ballet, Natalia Ashikhmina will give her final performance at Romeo & Juliet on March 2, 2024 at 8 p.m. at The Kentucky Center.

Natalia has had a magnificent career spanning three decades. Born in Bratsk, Russia, she graduated from the world-renowned Novosibirsk Ballet Academy. Upon graduation, Natalia became the youngest prima ballerina of the Russian National Ballet in Moscow. Natalia won the Audience Award at the 1998 International Ballet Competition Arabesque, a gold medal at the 1999 Competition of Professional Ballet Academies in Russia, and performed at the 2004 Gala des Etoiles in Montreal.

Following her time with the Russian National Ballet, Natalia moved to a principal position with Ballet Internationale in Indianapolis, Indiana. In 2006, Natalia joined Louisville Ballet as a principal dancer under Artistic Director Bruce Simpson. Her repertoire includes a vast array of principal roles including Aurora (The Sleeping Beauty), Giselle (Giselle), Juliet (Romeo & Juliet), The Sylph (La Sylphide), Kitri (Don Quixote), Swanhilde (Coppélia), Cinderella (A Cinderella Story), Stanton Welch’s Velocity, Hanna (Ronald Hynd’s The Merry Widow), and Odette/Odile (Swan Lake). This is Natalia’s 18th season with the company, and she now calls Louisville home with her husband, Phillip Velinov, and their two children.

“I am so thankful and incredibly blessed to have had this beautiful 18-year period of my life within this community, with my Louisville Ballet family, my colleagues, partners, coaches, directors, donors, friends, and audience. Each of them has impacted me, shared their wisdom and given me a piece of their hearts. Their gift has shaped me into who I am today as an artist and a human. Thank you for pushing me, for holding me up, for trusting and inspiring me. I am also profoundly grateful for the continuous and unconditional love and support of my parents, husband, and children every step of the way. I am filled with gratitude.” said Natalia.

Natalia will give her last performances with Louisville Ballet on March 1 and 2, 2024 in the role of Juliet in Alun Jones’ Romeo & Juliet. The last time she performed this role was when Louisville Ballet presented this production in 2013.

“I had the pleasure to work with Natalia from the day she arrived at the company 18 years ago,” said Artistic Director Harald Uwe Kern. “It will be strange not to have her in the studio every day. Her consummate professionalism is a special quality very few dancers possess. I will miss our ‘artistic discussions’ as much as the audience will miss her exceptional performances.”

“Natalia Ashikhmina has graced the Louisville Ballet stage with her exquisite prima ballerina qualities, and shared a deep level of love and understanding of the fine art of classical ballet. It has been an honor and a privilege to work with Natalia as a colleague, a coach, and a friend,” said Artistic Director Mikelle Bruzina.

In the classic story of star-crossed lovers, Natalia will dance the role of Juliet opposite Mark Krieger, a partner she has danced with in many principal roles throughout her tenure at Louisville Ballet. We encourage the Louisville community to join us at these performances and celebrate her illustrious career.

“Our patrons have been blessed to witness the exceptional artistry of Natalia. This will be an unforgettable opportunity to celebrate her beauty, grace and commitment of 18 years of dancing with Louisville Ballet for our Commonwealth,” said CEO Leslie Smart.

Louisville Ballet will present Romeo & Juliet at the Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts in Whitney Hall, March 1-2. Tickets range from $35- $150 (plus fees) and can be purchased by calling the Louisville Ballet Box Office at (502) 583-2623. Tickets may also be purchased online at