Maya Plisetskaya

Ballet Dancer
Born Nov 20, 1925

Maya Mikhaylovna Plisetskaya, born is a Russian ballet dancer, frequently cited as one of the greatest ballerinas of the 20th century. Plisetskaya danced during the Soviet era at the same time as the great Galina Ulanova, and took over from her as prima ballerina assoluta of the Bolshoi in 1960.… Read More

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U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, the younger brother to president John F. Kennedy, befriended Plisetskaya, with whom he shared the birth date of 20 November 1925. She was invited to gatherings with Kennedy and his family at their estate on Cape Cod in 1962. They later named their sailboat Maya, in her honor. As the Cuban Missile Crisis had ended a few weeks earlier, at the end of October, 1962, U.S. and Soviet relations were at a low point. Diplomats of both countries considered her friendship with Kennedy to be a great benefit to warmer relations, after weeks of worrisome military confrontation. Years later, when they met in 1968, he was then campaigning for the presidency, and diplomats again suggested that their friendship would continue to help relations between the two countries. … Read More


1938 12 Years Old In 1938, her father was arrested and later executed during the Stalinist purges, during which tens of thousands of people were murdered. … Read More
1941 15 Years Old Maya and her seven-month-old baby brother were taken in by their maternal aunt, ballerina Sulamith Messerer, until their mother was released in 1941. … Read More
1943 17 Years Old In 1943, at the age of eighteen, Plisetskaya graduated from the choreographic school. … Read More


1948 22 Years Old Ezrahi writes, “the intrinsic paranoia of the Soviet regime made it ban Plisetskaya, one of the most celebrated dancers, from the Bolshoi Ballet’s first major international tour,” as she was considered “politically suspect” and was “non-exportable.” In 1948 the Zhdanov Doctrine took effect, and with her family history, and being Jewish, she became a "natural target... publicly humiliated and excoriated for not attending political meetings." … Read More


1956 30 Years Old On one occasion, to gain the attention and respect from some of the country’s leaders, she gave one of the most powerful performances of her career, in Swan Lake, for her 1956 concert in Moscow. … Read More
1959 33 Years Old After performing in Spartacus during her 1959 U.S. debut tour, Life magazine, in its issue featuring the Bolshoi, rated her second only to Galina Ulanova. … Read More
1962 36 Years Old 1 More Event
By 1962, following Ulanova's retirement, Plisetskaya embarked on another three-month world tour. … Read More


1967 41 Years Old In 1967, she performed as Carmen in the Carmen Suite, choreographed specifically for her by Cuban choreographer Alberto Alonso. … Read More
1971 45 Years Old …  In 1971, her husband Shchedrin wrote a ballet on the same subject, where she would play the leading role. … Read More
1974 48 Years Old Her own ballet of the same name was filmed in 1974. … Read More


1984 58 Years Old Plisetskaya and Shchedrin spent time abroad, where she worked as the artistic director of the Rome Opera Ballet in 1984–85, then the Spanish National Ballet of Madrid from 1987 to 1989. … Read More


1990 64 Years Old As a member of the Bolshoi until 1990, her skill as a dancer changed the world of ballet, setting a higher standard for ballerinas both in terms of technical brilliance and dramatic presence. … Read More
1994 68 Years Old Beginning in 1994, she presided over the annual international ballet competitions, called Maya, and in 1996 she was named President of the Imperial Russian Ballet. … Read More
1996 70 Years Old 1 More Event
And in 1996 she was named President of the Imperial Russian Ballet. … Read More
2006 80 Years Old In 2006, Emperor Akihito of Japan presented her with the Praemium Imperiale, informally considered a Nobel Prize for Art.
2015 90 Years Old Plisetskaya died in Munich, Germany, on 2 May 2015 from a heart attack. … Read More
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