Maria (Masha) Ilieva was born in Sofia. At the age of 10 she was admitted to the State Choreographic School – Sofia in the class of prima ballerina Tsveta Dzhumalieva. The following year Masha was sent as a particularly talented child to continue her education at the world-famous Vaganova Academy in St. Petersburg /then Leningrad/. For 7 years her teachers were Maria Boyarchikova, Lyudmila Belskaya, Irina Trofimova and the famous Russian ballerina and teacher Feya Balabina.
After completing her studies, she was accepted into the corps of the Sofia National Opera. From the very first season she was entrusted with a solo performance in the ballet "Don Quixote". In the following years she danced solos in all ballets of the Opera's repertoire.
She won competitions in Dobrich – National Meeting of Young Talents – Dobrich 1985 and Varna – 1986 international ballet competition. Next came the first leading role – Masha from the ballet "The Nutcracker" where she was chosen personally by Yuri Grigorovich (then director of the Bolshoi Ballet), for the premiere performance.
Since 1990 Masha Ilieva has been appointed prima ballerina. She was appreciated by the audience and critics as a ballerina with an accomplished technique and a particularly strong artistic presence. She created in her own way the images of Odette – Odile, Giselle, Sylphide, which contributed to the modernization of these roles. Her best roles are Giselle, Kitri – "Don Quixote" and Madame Hortense in "Zorba the Greek".
In parallel with her stage activity Maria Ilieva is also a successful ballet teacher. Her students have won prestigious awards in Luxembourg, Varna, Dobrich.
Since 1999 she has been a teacher at the Pancho Vladigerov Academy of Music – in major ballet directing and pedagogy, and since 2008 also in major classical singing.
In 2007 she defended her dissertation on "Aspects of practical ballet training of children from 3 to 7 years" and was awarded a doctorate degree. In 2010 she defended the title of Associate Professor.
In the period 2001-2003 she was artistic director of the National Ballet – Sofia. During this period the Bulgarian ballet met Balanchine's work for the first time, the original production of "La Sylphide" was staged, young choreographers were given the opportunity to create on a professional stage.
In 1995 she began working at the House of Culture "Sredets", where she directed a ballet school, later called the Masha Ilieva Ballet School.
In 2000 he registered the company "The Young Ballet of Bulgaria", with which she made several tours in the country and one participation in the festival "Ohrid Summer" in Macedonia.
With the same name is the non-profit association through which the activities of talented people in the field of dance and opera are supported.
As a rćpćtiteur and teacher at the Sofia Opera and Ballet she has been leading classes and rehearsals since 2009.
She is currently working as a rehearsal coach at Sofia Opera and Ballet, where in November 2014 she was the director-producer of the super production "The Sleeping Beauty". She also stages a number of children's ballets.
She prepares new ensembles for the ballet's productions, at the same time keeping the performances from losing their original look.
In the recent years she has worked with the choreographers Fredy Franzuti – Italy, Eldar Aliev – Russia, Andris Liepa – Russia, Donvena Pandursky, Svetlin Ivelinov and others.
“La bayadère” – 2013, “Le Corsaire” – 2017, “The Firebird” – 2016, “Legend of the Lake” – 2019, “Carmina Burana” – 2018, “Tango” – 2021.
In 2017 she was part of the team of the revival of the divertissement “Paquita”, where she staged 2/3 of the ballet.
In 2018 she participated in the tour of Sofia Opera and Ballet to the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow as the only rćpćtiteur of the ballet “Le Corsaire”.