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Born in St. Petersburg, Russia, Maria Bystrova was accepted into the Academy of Russian Ballet at the age of ten. Two years later she was invited by Oleg Vinogradov, the Artistic Director of the Kirov Ballet, to study in Washington, D. C., under full scholarship, at the Kirov Academy of Ballet. In 1998, Bystrova received the Princess Grace Award and at the Sixth USA International Ballet Competition she was a junior finalist and received the William Como Dance Magazine Award. At 16, she danced her first Giselle with the Universal Ballet Company on their Japanese and European tours. Bystrova has danced in Chopiniana, Le Corsaire, Don Quixote, Fairy Doll, La Fille Mal Gardée, Raymonda and The Sleeping Beauty.

Bystrova joined ABT’s Studio Company (now ABT II) in August 1999 and, in August 2000 joined American Ballet Theatre as a member of the corps de ballet. Her roles with the Company include a Sylph in Artemis, an Odalisque in Le Corsaire, the Mother in Fall River Legend, Bathilde and Berthe in Giselle, the Chief Nursemaid in Petrouchka, the Older Sister in Pillar of Fire, the Lead Hungarian Dancer in Raymonda, Rosaline and Lady Capulet in Romeo and Juliet, Carabosse, the Countess and the Fairy of Sincerity in The Sleeping Beauty, the Queen Mother in Swan Lake, Anna in La Sylphide, Diana in Sylvia and roles in Drink To Me Only With Thine Eyes and Everything Doesn't Happen at Once.