Maya Plisetskaya, a legendary Russian ballerina, died on May 2, 2015. She was 89.
“Here is my advice for the future generations. Don’t settle, to the edge, don’t settle. Fight. Even then – fight, shoot back, blare your trumpets, pound your drums... To the last moment, fight.”
She knew what she was talking about. She was fighting the Soviet establishment all her life. Her father was executed by the Stalin’s regime when she was thirteen, and her mother was sent to a prison camp. Both parents were declared ‘the enemies of the people’ by the government, and the children of such ‘enemies’ were mandated to repudiate their parents publicly. That would be horrible for any teenager, but it was unbearable for Plisetskaya with her sensitive, artistic nature and defiant, independent personality. To survive, she danced.
She never became a tin soldier for the communist party, but her rebellion was subtle. It wore pointe shoes and pirouetted to ballet music. Despite all barriers the Soviet moguls put in her way, Plisetskaya became a superstar of the Soviet Ballet, inspiring admiration wherever she performed, be it in Russia or abroad. Later in life, after the cold war ended, she had several ballets created specifically for her by the most famous world choreographers, including Maurice Bejart and Alberto Alonso. She was, above all, a Ballerina.
I saw her alive on stage only once, in Carmen Suite. She was already over 50 and she was fantastic!
She is 80 here.