Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Maya Plisetskaya

Maya Plisetskaya 31 Oct 2011
Copyright: www.kremlin.ru
 Creative Commons Licence 

A lot of good things happened on 2 May 2015 for me personally in that I saw an outstanding performance by Ballet Central in Leeds (see Dazzled 3 May 2015) and for the public in general in that the Duchess of Cambridge gave birth to a daughter. But for me it was all overshadowed by the sad news from Moscow that the prima ballerina assoluta Maya Plisetskaya had died in Germany.

Though I never met her I felt the loss deeply.  When I first took an interest in ballet in the 1960s there were two great names: Dame Margot Fonteyn in this country and Maya Plisetskaya in the Soviet Union. Of the two I found Plisetskaya by far the more interesting,

Here is a film about Plisetskaya and her art made at about that time I first heard of her.  It shows her at her peak dancing in some of her most famous roles: Odile, Juliet, the Dying Swan and above all Phrygia.  It also has some shots of her as a young student,


I admired her as an artist but also as a human being. She had an old fashioned loyalty to her country (which siome would say was misplaced as she lost her father in one of Stalin's purges) but she was not afraid of asserting herself from time to time.

In 1958 Plisetskaya married the composer Rodion Shchedrin who composed the score to The Little Humpbacked Horse and arranged several other works for her. Their marriage continued until the day she died.

She was a ravishingly beautiful woman even in her eighties as the photograph shows. Like Fonteyn she continued to perform long after the age most dancers have retired.

Nobody can live for ever. She had a very good innings. But that does not stop me from feeling very, very sad at her passing.

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