Maya PlisetskayaI: ‘I would like to talk about Swan Lake and my handsome partners but it all revolves around Stalin’s terror’
“I would like to talk about ‘Sleeping Beauty’ and ‘Swan Lake,’ about my battements and my handsome partners,” wrote ballerina Maya Plisetskaya, who has died at the age of 89. “But whichever way I look at my childhood, it all revolves around politics and Stalin’s terror.”
Her New York Times’ obituary tells us:
Her father was shot to death in 1938 in Stalin’s purges. (Ms. Plisetskaya learned the date of his death only in 1989.) Her mother was arrested and sent to a labor camp with her infant son, then exiled to Kazakhstan….
Ms. Plisetskaya was… restricted by the Bolshoi’s rigid Soviet guidelines on choreography, which viewed the very movement of dance through the prism of ideology, yet she was able to infuse stultified, literal movements with much deeper meaning….
“I danced all of classical ballet and dreamed of something new,” she said. “In my time, it was impossible.”
But it was a career that was far from plain sailing. She first sparked scandal in 1967 after a meeting in Moscow with Cuban choreographer Alberto Alonso, who, as a citizen of a friendly communist country, was allowed to create for her the Carmen Suite.
“Carmen – where 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,” Plisetskaya said. “It was war, they accused me of betraying classical dance.”