Skip to Main Content

University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Azerbaijani Language


The history of appearance of the ballet begins since 1940 with staging of Afrasiyab Badalbeyli’s "Maiden Tower", but in fact it started in the 1920's. In 1923, the private ballet studio functioned in Baku. The first ballerina of Azerbaijan, Qamar Almaszade, had taught secrets of the art of ballet in this school, where majority of students were foreigners.
In 1939, Afrasiyab Badalbeyli wrote one-act “Tarlan” ballet for children in connection with fist graduation of the Baku School of Choreography and a year later "Maiden Tower" ballet for Qamar Almaszade. 
Later, the theater's repertoire was enriched with "Gulshan" (1950, S. Hajibeyov) "Seven Beauties" (1952, G. Qarayev), "Gypsy Girl" (1965, E. Abbasov), "Thunder" (1961, G. Garayev), " Legend of Love "(1962, A. Melikov)," Arabian Nights "(1979, F.Amirov)," Babek "(1986, Agshin Alizadeh)," White and Black "(2000, Khayyam Mirzazade)," Love and Death " (2005, P. Bulbuloglu).
(Azərbaycan Dövlət Opera və Balet Teatrı)
A history of ballet in Azerbaijani can be found here, and here in English.
Information about the Azerbaijan State Academic Opera and Ballet Theater can be found here in English, and here in Azeri.


Opera took root in Azerbaijan in the early 1900's, and started by incorporating elements of traditional Azerbaijani music.  The first performances in Baku were staged at the old Taghiyev Theater, which stood where the Musical Comedy Theater (Azərbaycan Dövlət Musiqili Komediya Teatrı) stands today.

For more information, please check here for English, and this website for more information on the theaters in Azerbaijani.


Here you will find a listing of the different notable dramatists of Azerbaijan.

Jafar Jabbarly (1899-1934) - writer, playwright

J. Jabbarly is considered the founder of modern drama of Azerbaijan. Since 1915, he began to write lyric and satiric poems, stories and dramas. 
Besides continuing the most beautiful features of the classic dramaturgy of Azerbaijan had benefited the world drama achievements, as well. J.Jabbarly, trying to be as urgent as Ibsen, resolute and courageous as a rebel Schiller, rich and colorful as Shakespeare, laid the foundation for social realism in Azerbaijani dramaturgy. 
Faithful Sariyya, or laugh in the tears 
Faded flowers 
Oktay Eloglu (countryman)
Bride of Fire 
Flower garden 


Two years after the first cinema show in France, in 1898,  films depicting daily life in Baku, with titles such as "People walk in Garden City", "Train into the railway station", "Baku street at morning" were being shown in the Baku theater.  In 1926, the film shot by Ababs Mirza Sharifzade, "Bismillah," was the first independent film of Azerbaijani cinematography, and Sharifzadeh was the first national film director.  The first sound film of Azerbaijani cinema was the joint work of "Azerfilm" and "Mejrabpomfilm" a comedy called "At coasts of Blue Sea" was shot. This film was shot by directors Boris Barnet and Samed Mardanov, and was included in the list of best films of world cinema according to survey carried out by among most influential film critics of "Kinovedceskiye zametki" in connection with 100th anniversary of world cinema and also was included in the list of Bernard Ayzenshits in France and Naum Kleiman in Russia.

A more complete Azerbaijani history of film can be found here in Azerbaijani, and here in English.


Ali and Nino Movie

Christopher Hampton To Pen Movie Adaptation of Novel ‘Ali & Nino’

LONDON – Oscar winning scribe Christopher Hampton is penning a big screen adaptation of novel Ali & Nino, by Kurban Said.

British production banner PeaPie Films, headed by producer Kris Thykier, has snapped up the movie rights to the book and will produce.

Said’s epic love story is one of the most original works of 20th literature and since its initial publication in 1937, it has been translated into 33 languages worldwide with nearly 100 reprints.

Thykier, whose producer resume boasts StardustKick-Ass, Harry Brown, The Debt and the Madonna directed W.E., will produce with Leyla Aliyeva serving as executive producer.

Ali Khan and Nino Kipiani live in Baku, the cosmopolitan, oil-rich capital of Azerbaijan which, at the beginning of the twentieth century, is a melting-pot of different cultures. Ali is a Muslim and Nino is a Christian Georgian girl with sophisticated European ways. Despite their differences, the two have loved each other since childhood and Ali is determined that he will marry Nino as soon as she leaves school.

Hampton secured an Academy Award in 1988 for his adaptation of his own play Dangerous Liaisons.

Hampton said: “From the moment I read the book I fell in love with this story which is beautifully written and in many ways as relevant and resonant now as it was when it was first published.”

Subject Guide

Profile Photo
Slavic Reference Service
Slavic Reference Service
International and Area Studies Library
Room 317
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
1408 West Gregory Drive
Urbana, Illinois 61801