Svetlana Adyrkhayeva was born in Khumalg in Northern Ossetia, Russia, in 1938. She graduated from the Leningrad Choreographic School (now the Russian Ballet Academy, named Vaganova) in 1955. Her teachers were Varvara Mei and Elena Shiripina. In 1955-58 she danced with the State Academy Theatre in Chelyabinsk, and 1958-60 in Odessa.
In 1960 she was invited to join the Bolshoi Ballet in Moscow. She was soloist with them until 1988. She danced leading roles. She was particularly succesful in dramatically demanding roles. Her best roles were Mekhmene Banu (Legend of Love) and Aegina (Spartacus).
In 1980 she took a Balletmaster exam at the State Institute for Theatrical Art, where she she also teached from 1978-81. In 1995-2001 she teached classical dance Choreographic Academy at New University for Humanities, named Natalia Nesterova.
Since 2001 she works as Balletmaster-Repetiteur at the Bolshoi Theatre. She rehearses Anna Antonicheva, Anastaia Yatsenko, Anna Leonova, Ekaterina Krysanova, Julia Grebenshchikova, Olga Stebletsova, Anastasia Stashkevich and Irina Yatsenko.