|Birth Day:||November 20, 1925|
|Death Date:||May 2, 2015 (age 89)|
|Birth Place:||Moscow, Russia|
|Height:||in centimeters - N/A|
|Weight:||in kg - N/A|
As per our current Database, Maya Plisetskaya died on May 2, 2015 (age 89).
When she was a young child, she was sent to train under the great Elizaveta Gerdt.
Plisetskaya was born on 20 November 1925 in Moscow, into a prominent family of Lithuanian Jewish descent, most of whom were involved in the theater or film. Her mother, Rachel Messerer-Plisetskaya, was a silent-film actress. Bolshoi Ballet principal dancer Asaf Messerer was a maternal uncle and Bolshoi prima ballerina Sulamith Messerer was a maternal aunt. Her father, Mikhail Plisetski (Misha), was a diplomat, engineer and mine director; he was not involved in the arts, although he was a fan of ballet. Her brothers Alexander Plisetski and Azary Plisetski became renowned ballet masters, and her niece Anna Plisetskaya would also become a ballerina.
In 1938, her father was arrested and later executed during the Stalinist purges, during which countless thousands of people were murdered. 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 together with her seven-month-old baby Azary sent to a labor camp (Gulag) in Kazakhstan for the next three years. Maya was taken in by their maternal aunt, ballerina Sulamith Messerer, until her mother was released in 1941.
During the years without her parents, while 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 had stayed there for four years with her family, from 1932 to 1936. She subsequently studied at the Bolshoi School under the ex-ballerina of the Mariinsky imperial ballet, the great Elizaveta Gerdt. Maya first performed at the Bolshoi Theatre when she was eleven. In 1943, at the age of eighteen, Plisetskaya graduated from the Bolshoi School. She joined the Bolshoi Ballet, where she performed until 1990.
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." 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. 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. 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.”
After Galina Ulanova left the stage in 1960, Maya Plisetskaya was proclaimed the prima ballerina assoluta of the Bolshoi Theatre. In 1971, her husband Shchedrin wrote a ballet on the same subject, where she would play the leading role. 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), which featured music by Shchedrin later reused in his ballet score. Her own ballet of the same name was filmed in 1974.
By 1962, following Ulanova's retirement, Plisetskaya embarked on another three-month world tour. 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."
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."
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.
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".
In 1967, she performed as Carmen in the Carmen Suite, choreographed specifically for her by Cuban choreographer Alberto Alonso. 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."
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. Plisetskaya summarizes Soviet thoughts on the matter:
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. Plisetskaya and Shchedrin spent time abroad, where she worked as the artistic director of the Rome Opera Ballet from 1984 to 85, then the Spanish National Ballet of Madrid from 1987 to 1989. 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, and in 1996 she was named President of the Imperial Russian Ballet.
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. In 1996, she danced the Dying Swan, her signature role, at a gala in her honor in St. Petersburg.
In 2006, Emperor Akihito of Japan presented her with the Praemium Imperiale, informally considered a Nobel Prize for Art.
Plisetskaya died in Munich, Germany, on 2 May 2015 from a heart attack. Plisetskaya was survived by her husband, and a brother, former dancer Azari Plisetsky, a teacher of choreography at the Béjart 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.
Maya married Rodion Shchedrin in 1958.
Currently, Maya Plisetskaya is 97 years, 6 months and 15 days old. Maya Plisetskaya will celebrate 98th birthday on a Monday 20th of November 2023. Below we countdown to Maya Plisetskaya upcoming birthday.
Maya Plisetskaya marks her 85th birthday - aysor.am - Hot news from Armenia
Joining the Bolshoi Ballet company right after graduation a dancing school on 1943, Plisetskaya is a living legend of Russian and world ballet.