Maya Plisetskaya
Ballet dancer
Maya Plisetskaya
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.
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Bolshoi dreams: tradition reigns at Russian ballet school
Yahoo News - 10 months
In a vast, light-filled room, a dozen girls in identical lavender leotards, hair in tight chignons, all strike an arabesque pose and share the same dream: one day joining Russia's legendary Bolshoi Ballet. Located in south Moscow far from the gilded splendour of the historic Bolshoi theatre, the academy has produced some of the world's most celebrated dancers, including Maya Plisetskaya and Maris Liepa. Founded in the 1770s like the Bolshoi theatre, the academy, also called the Moscow State School of Choreography, today has 721 students from 10 to 19 years old.
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Yahoo News article
A Legendary Company Pays Tribute
Wall Street Journal - 12 months
The Mariinsky visited Brooklyn with ‘A Tribute to Maya Plisetskaya,’ a series of four different dance programs at BAM.
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Wall Street Journal article
Review: Mariinsky Celebrates a Prima Ballerina
NYTimes - 12 months
In the first of four programs at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, the ballet company performed “A Tribute to Maya Plisetskaya” on Thursday.
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NYTimes article
ArtsBeat: Watching Maya Plisetskaya
NYTimes - almost 2 years
Ms. Plisetskaya, who died on Saturday, was the epitome of the Bolshoi’s larger-than-life tradition. These clips give a sense of her dancing.
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NYTimes article
Legendary Russian ballerina dies
CNN - almost 2 years
Russian ballerina Maya Plisetskaya, who was considered one of the greatest ballerinas of the 20th century, died on Saturday at age 89.
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CNN article
Maya Plisetskaya: Ballerina whose charisma and talent helped her fight the Soviet authorities and achieve international fame
The Independent - almost 2 years
If Soviet ballet's most famous ballerina was Galina Ulanova – arguably also the 20th century's greatest – then Maya Plisetskaya was not far behind. On Ulanova's retirement in 1962 she became the Bolshoi's prima ballerina; her celebrity in Russia was on a par with cosmonauts and film stars; her distinctively tall and dramatic image, captured in photos and film, was as familiar as Khrushchev's.
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The Independent article
Legendary Russian ballerina Maya Plisetskaya dies
CNN - almost 2 years
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CNN article
Russian ballerina Plisetskaya dies at 89
Yahoo News - almost 2 years
MOSCOW (AP) — Maya Plisetskaya, regarded as one of the greatest ballerinas of the 20th century and whose career at the Bolshoi Theater spanned more than 35 years, has died at age 89.
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Yahoo News article
Maya Plisetskaya, Ballerina Who Embodied Bolshoi, Dies at 89
NYTimes - almost 2 years
Ms. Plisetskaya, renowned for her fluidity of movement, expressive acting and willful personality, danced on the Bolshoi stage well into her 60s, but her life was shadowed by Stalinism.
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NYTimes article
In the mood of Julien Fournié: "For me, Maya Plisetskaya represents the eternal feminine"
Yahoo News - about 3 years
In the midst of the Spring-Summer 2014 edition of haute couture fashion week (January 19-24), Relaxnews caught up with French couturier Julien Fournié, who is unveiling his new collection in Paris Tuesday, January 21. JF: I was getting ready for a gala event at the Paris Opéra. In powdery tones, in the style of Jean-Honoré Fragonard, I placed these young women in a strange world, a little like Mark Ryden does. R: If you had to sum up your collection in just one piece, which would you choose?
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Yahoo News article
Labat Loano Danza Festival: finale con il Gran Gala delle stelle - Albenga Corsara - News & Views Magazine
Google News - over 5 years
Rolando si è esibito in Gala con ballerini famosi come Maya Plisetskaya, Patrick Dupont, Farouk Ruzimatov, Alicia Alonso, Tamara Rojo, Mary Carmen Catoya. YOEL CARRENO – Inizia gli studi di danza alla Escuela Provincial de Ballet “Alejo Carpentier”
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Google News article
Andaba la cosa gacha - El Comercio Digital (Asturias)
Google News - over 5 years
Cierto que es la efeméride de las dos personas citadas, ¿y?, pero también lo es del óbito del poeta Luis Cernuda, y del nacimiento de Jorge Negrete, de Maya Plisetskaya o de la, imponderable, y nunca bien descrita, Bo Derek
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Google News article
Anna Karenina, Royal Opera House, LondonBalanchine / Robbins Triple Bill ... - The Independent
Google News - over 5 years
Telling so much in such a short space – Rodion Shchedrin's airless score, written in 1972 for wife Maya Plisetskaya's version of Anna Karenina, is only 85 minutes long – calls for all Ratmansky's considerable incisive wit. Major events gallop past,
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Google News article
Μια ρομαντική ιστορία αγάπης σε ένα κλασικό αριστούργημα - Ημερησία
Google News - over 5 years
Πέρυσι, μετά την παράσταση του «Little Humpbacked Horse» την οποία μόλις είχε παρακολουθήσει η μεγάλη Maya Plisetskaya, έβγαλε συγκινημένη τα διαμαντένια σκουλαρίκια που φορούσε και τα προσέφερε στην έκπληκτη Alina. Απ' την άλλη, η Alina Cojocaru από
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Google News article
Anna Karenina, Covent Garden, London - Financial Times
Google News - over 5 years
It proposes hallucinatory action, exceptional decoration, and an energetic score by Rodion Shchedrin composed for an earlier realisation of Tolstoy's novel by his wife, Maya Plisetskaya. What Ratmansky's two acts offer is a spectre's view of the
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Google News article
Learn about memorable moments in the evolution of Maya Plisetskaya
  • 2015
    Age 89
    Plisetskaya died in Munich, Germany, on 2 May 2015 from a heart attack.
    More Details Hide Details Plisetskaya was survived by her husband, and a brother, former dancer Azari Plisetsky, a teacher of choreography at the Bejart Ballet in Lausanne, Switzerland. According to her last will and testament, she was to be cremated, and after the death of her widower, Rodion Shchedrin, who is also to be cremated, their ashes are to be combined and spread over Russia. Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed his condolences, and Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said that "a whole era of ballet was gone" with Plisetskaya. Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko extended condolences to her family and friends: Plisetskaya's tour manager, Maxim Gershunoff, who also helped promote the Soviet/American Cultural Exchange Program, describes her as "not only a great artist, but also very realistic and earthy... with a very open and honest outlook on life." During Plisetskaya's tours abroad she became friends with a number of other theater and music artists, including composer and pianist Leonard Bernstein, with whom she remained friends until his death. Pianist Arthur Rubinstein, also a friend, was able to converse with her in Russian. She visited him after his concert performance in Russia. Novelist John Steinbeck, while at their home in Moscow, listened to her stories of the hardship of becoming a ballerina, and told her that the backstage side of ballet could make for a "most interesting novel".
  • 2006
    Age 80
    In 2006, Emperor Akihito of Japan presented her with the Praemium Imperiale, informally considered a Nobel Prize for Art.
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  • 1996
    Age 70
    In 1996 she danced the Dying Swan, her signature role, at a gala in her honor in St. Petersburg.
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    And in 1996 she was named President of the Imperial Russian Ballet.
    More Details Hide Details She was ballet director of the Rome Opera (1983–84), and artistic director of Ballet del Teatro Lirico Nacional in Madrid (1987–90). She was awarded the Prince of Asturias Award for the Arts in 2005 with the ballerina Tamara Rojo also. She was awarded the Spanish Gold Medal of Fine Art.
  • 1994
    Age 68
    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.
    More Details Hide Details In 1991 she published her autobiography, I, Maya Plisetskaya.
  • 1990
    Age 64
    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.
    More Details Hide Details As a soloist, Plisetskaya created a number of leading roles, including Moiseyev’s Spartacus (1958); Grigorovich’s The Stone Flower (1959); Aurora in Grigorovich’s The Sleeping Beauty (1963); Alberto Alonso’s Carmen Suite (1967), written especially for her; and Maurice Bejart’s Isadora (1976). Among her most acclaimed roles was Odette-Odile in Swan Lake (1947). A fellow dancer stated that her dramatic portrayal of Carmen, reportedly her favorite role, "helped confirm her as a legend, and the ballet soon took its place as a landmark in the Bolshoi repertoire." Her husband, composer Rodion Shchedrin, wrote the scores to a number of her ballets. Having become “an international superstar” and a continuous “box office hit throughout the world,” Plisetskaya was treated by the Soviet Union as a favored cultural emissary. Although she toured extensively during the same years that other dancers defected, including Rudolf Nureyev, Natalia Makarova and Mikhail Baryshnikov, Plisetskaya always refused to defect.
  • 1984
    Age 58
    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.
    More Details Hide Details She retired as a soloist for the Bolshoi at age 65, and on her 70th birthday, she debuted in Maurice Béjart's piece choreographed for her, "Ave Maya". Since 1994, she has presided over the annual international ballet competitions, called Maya.
  • 1974
    Age 48
    Her own ballet of the same name was filmed in 1974.
    More Details Hide Details While on tour in the United States in 1987, Plisetskaya gave master classes at the David Howard Dance Center. A review in New York magazine noted that although she was 61 when giving the classes, “she displayed the suppleness and power of a performer in her physical prime.” In October that year she performed with Rudolf Nureyev and Mikhail Baryshnikov for the opening night of the season with the Martha Graham Dance Company in New York. Plisetskaya's husband, composer Rodion Shchedrin, wrote the score to a number of her ballets, including Anna Karenina, The Sea Gull, Carmen, and Lady with a Small Dog. In the 1980s, he was considered the successor to Shostakovich, and became the Soviet Union's leading composer.
  • 1971
    Age 45
    In 1971, her husband Shchedrin wrote a ballet on the same subject, where she would play the leading role.
    More Details Hide Details Anna Karenina was also her first attempt at choreography. Other choreographers who created ballets for her include Yury Grigorovich, Roland Petit, Alberto Alonso, and Maurice Béjart with "Isadora". She created The Seagull and Lady with a Lapdog. She starred in the 1961 film, The Humpbacked Horse, and appeared as a straight actress in several films, including the Soviet version of Anna Karenina (1968).
  • 1967
    Age 41
    In 1967, she performed as Carmen in the Carmen Suite, choreographed specifically for her by Cuban choreographer Alberto Alonso.
    More Details Hide Details The music was re-scored from Bizet’s original by her husband, Rodion Shchedrin, and its themes were re-worked into a "modernist and almost abstract narrative." Dancer Olympia Dowd, who performed alongside her, writes that Plisetskaya’s dramatic portrayal of Carmen, her favorite role, made her a legend, and soon became a "landmark" in the Bolshoi's repertoire. Her Carmen, however, at first "rattled the Soviet establishment," which was "shaken with her Latin sensuality." She was aware that her dance style was radical and new, saying that "every gesture, every look, every movement had meaning, was different from all other ballets... The Soviet Union was not ready for this sort of choreography. It was war, they accused me of betraying classical dance." Some critics outside of Russia saw her departure from classical styles as necessary to the Bolshoi's success in the West. New York Times critic Anna Kisselgoff observed, "Without her presence, their poverty of movement invention would make them untenable in performance. It is a tragedy of Soviet ballet that a dancer of her singular genius was never extended creatively.” A Russian news commentator wrote, she "was never afraid to bring ardor and vehemence onto the stage," contributing to her becoming a "true queen of the Bolshoi." Her life and work was described by the French ballet critic André Philippe Hersin as "genius, audacity and avant-garde."
  • 1962
    Age 36
    In 1962, the Bolshoi was invited to perform at the White House by president John F. Kennedy, and Plisetskaya recalled that first lady Jacqueline Kennedy greeted her by saying "You're just like Anna Karenina."
    More Details Hide Details While in France in 1965, Plisetskaya was invited to the home of Russian artist Marc Chagall and his wife. Chagall had moved to France to study art in 1910. He asked her if she wouldn't mind creating some ballet poses to help him with his current project, a mural for the new Metropolitan Opera House in New York, which would show various images representing the arts. She danced and posed in various positions as he sketched, and her images were used on the mural, "at the top left corner, a colorful flock of ballerinas". Plisetskaya made friends with a number of celebrities and notable politicians who greatly admired and followed her work. She met Swedish actress Ingrid Bergman, then living in the U.S., after a performance of Anna Karenina. Bergman told her that both their photographs, taken by noted photographer Richard Avedon, appeared on the same page in Vogue magazine. Bergman suggested she "flee Communism", recalled Plisetskaya, telling her "I will help you."
    By 1962, following Ulanova's retirement, Plisetskaya embarked on another three-month world tour.
    More Details Hide Details As a performer, notes Homans, she "excelled in the hard-edged, technically demanding roles that Ulanova eschewed, including Raymonda, the black swan in Swan Lake, and Kitri in Don Quixote." In her performances, Plisetskaya was "unpretentious, refreshing, direct. She did not hold back." Ulanova added that Plisetskaya's "artistic temperament, bubbling optimism of youth reveal themselves in this ballet with full force." World-famous impresario Sol Hurok said that Plisetskaya was the only ballerina after Pavlova who gave him "a shock of electricity" when she came on stage. Rudolf Nureyev watched her debut as Kitri in Don Quixote and told her afterwards, "I sobbed from happiness. You set the stage on fire." At the conclusion of one performance at the Metropolitan Opera, she received a half-hour ovation. Choreographer Jerome Robbins, who had just finished the Broadway play, West Side Story, told her that he "wanted to create a ballet especially for her."
  • 1959
    Age 33
    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.
    More Details Hide Details Spartacus became a significant ballet for the Bolshoi, with one critic describing their "rage to perform", personified by Plisetskaya as ballerina, "that defined the Bolshoi." During her travels she also appeared as guest artist with the Paris Opera Ballet, Ballet National de Marseilles, and Ballet of the 20th Century in Brussels.
  • 1956
    Age 30
    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.
    More Details Hide Details Homans describes that "extraordinary performance: " Soviet leader Khrushchev was still concerned, writes historian David Caute, that “her defection would have been useful for the West as anti-Soviet propaganda.” She wrote him “a long and forthright expression of her patriotism and her indignation that it should be doubted.” Subsequently the travel ban was lifted in 1959 on Khrushchev’s personal intercession, as it became clear to him that striking Plisetskaya from the Bolshoi's participants could have serious consequences for the tour’s success. In his memoirs, Khrushchev writes that Plisetskaya “was not only the best ballerina in the Soviet Union, but the best in the world.” Able to travel the world as a member of the Bolshoi, Plisetskaya changed the world of ballet by her skills and technique, setting a higher standard for ballerinas both in terms of technical brilliance and dramatic presence. Having allowed her to tour in New York, Kruschev was immensely satisfied upon reading the reviews of her performances. “He embraced her upon her return: ‘Good girl, coming back. Not making me look like a fool. You didn’t let me down.’”
  • 1948
    Age 22
    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."
    More Details Hide Details As a result, dancing roles were continually denied her and for sixteen years she could tour only within the Soviet bloc. She became a "provincial artist, consigned to grimy, unrewarding bus tours, exclusively for local consumption”, writes Homans. In 1958 Plisetskaya received the title of the People's Artist of the USSR. That same year she married the young composer Rodion Shchedrin, whose subsequent fame she shared. Wanting to dance internationally, she rebelled and defied Soviet expectations.
  • 1943
    Age 17
    In 1943, at the age of eighteen, Plisetskaya graduated from the choreographic school.
    More Details Hide Details She joined the Bolshoi Ballet, where she performed until 1990. From the beginning, Plisetskaya was a different kind of ballerina. She spent a very short time in the corps de ballet after graduation and was quickly named a soloist. Her bright red hair and striking looks made her a glamorous figure on and off the stage. “She was a remarkably fluid dancer but also a very powerful one”, according to The Oxford Dictionary of Dance. “The robust theatricality and passion she brought to her roles made her an ideal Soviet ballerina.” Her interpretation of The Dying Swan, a short showcase piece made famous by Anna Pavlova, became her calling card. Plisetskaya was known for the height of her jumps, her extremely flexible back, the technical strength of her dancing, and her charisma. She excelled both in adagio and allegro, which is very unusual in dancers. Despite her acclaim, Plisetskaya was not treated well by the Bolshoi management. She was Jewish at a time of Soviet anti-Zionist campaigns combined with other oppression of suspected dissidents. Her family had been purged during the Stalinist era and she had a defiant personality. As a result, Plisetskaya was not allowed to tour outside the country for sixteen years after she had become a member of the Bolshoi.
  • 1941
    Age 15
    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.
    More Details Hide Details During the years without her parents, and barely a teenager, Plisetskaya "faced terror, war, and dislocation," writes Homans. As a result, “Maya took refuge in ballet and the Bolshoi Theater.” As her father was stationed at Spitzbergen to supervise the coalmines in Barentsburg she stayed there for four years with her family, from 1932 to 1936. She next studied under the great ballerina of imperial school, Elizaveta Gerdt. She first performed at the Bolshoi Theatre when she was eleven.
  • 1938
    Age 12
    In 1938, her father was arrested and later executed during the Stalinist purges, during which tens of thousands of people were murdered.
    More Details Hide Details According to ballet scholar Jennifer Homans, her father was a committed Communist, and had earlier been "proclaimed a national hero for his work on behalf of the Soviet coal industry." Soviet leader Vyacheslav Molotov presented him with one of the Soviet Union's first manufactured cars. Her mother was arrested soon after and sent to a labor camp (Gulag) in Kazakhstan for the next three years.
  • 1925
    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.
    More Details Hide Details Plisetskaya summarizes Soviet thoughts on the matter: Of their friendship, Plisetskaya wrote in her autobiography: Robert Kennedy was assassinated just days before he was to see Plisetskaya again in New York. Gershunoff, Plisetskaya's manager at the time, recalls that on the day of the funeral, most of the theaters and concert halls in New York City went "dark", closed in mourning and respect. The Bolshoi likewise planned to cancel their performance, but they decided instead to do a different ballet than planned, one dedicated to Kennedy. Gershunoff describes that evening: Plisetskaya was honored on numerous occasions for her skills:
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