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Makhmud Alisultanovich Esambayev (Russian: Махмуд Алисултанович Эсамбаев) (July 15, 1924 – January 7, 2000) was a Russian actor and dancer.[1] Makhmud was regarded as one of the most famous dancers of the Soviet Union.[2]

Makhmud Esambayev
Махмуд Эсамбаев
Махмуд Эсамбаев.jpg
Born(1924-07-15)July 15, 1924
DiedJanuary 7, 2000(2000-01-07) (aged 75)
AwardsHero of Socialist Labor medal.png
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Orden of Friendship.png Order of Lenin ribbon bar.png Order gpw2 rib.png Orderredbannerlabor rib.png Orderredbannerlabor rib.png Orderredbannerlabor rib.png
People Artist of the USSR1.jpg



Makhmud was born in Starye Atagi, U.S.S.R to Soviet parents. When he was a child, his father would take him to village weddings where he would perform dances. At the age of fifteen, Makhmud joined the Chechen-Ingush Song and Dance Company, and at nineteen, he joined the operetta theater of Pyatigorsk, where he would give concerts to Red Army troops fighting in the Second World War.

In 1944, he was deported along with other chechen people during the Deportation of the Chechens and Ingush, an ethnic cleansing of Chechen and Ingush people by the Soviet forces.

Years later, Makhmud joined the Kyrgyz theater of opera and ballet as a soloist, where he played the lead role in productions of Swan Lake (playing the part of Von Rothbart), The Fountain of Bakhchisarai and The Sleeping Beauty.

Makhmud was elected more than once to the Supreme Soviet of the Chechen-Ingush ASSR, the Russian SFSR, and the Soviet Union.

Makhmud was known for always wearing his papakha hat, calling it "my crown" and not even removing it when meeting with a head of state. His papakha made an unparalleled and very conspicuous presence on the floor of the Soviet legislature. On noticing it, the Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev would murmur that "Makhmud is here, it's time to call the session open."[3]

Makhmud died of natural causes on January 7, 2000.

He was a recipient of the Hero of Socialist Labour and People's Artist of the Soviet Union awards.

Honours and awardsEdit

The former "Central street" in Starye Atagi was renamed after Esambayev in 2011.[4]

Preceded by
Edita Piekha
Living Legend Award
Makhmud Esambayev
Succeeded by
Valery Leontiev


  • I Will Dance (1963)
  • Swan Lake (1968)
  • The Sannikov Land (1973)
  • At the World's Limit International (1974)
  • Upright Magic (1975)
  • Rip (1994)


External linksEdit