Sunday, February 10, 2008

Maya Plisetskaya dances to Bolero

Wherein choreography by Maurice Bejart

Washington Post:
That Plisetskaya became one of the extraordinary artists of her generation is itself a miracle. She was born in 1925 into a Jewish family of artists and intellectuals and joined the Moscow Choreographic School at the age of 9. Her father, the manager of an Arctic coal mine, was arrested during the Great Terror launched by Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin and executed in 1937. Her mother was sent to a prison in Kazakhstan.

From her biography:
In America in 1959 I received $40 per performance. And on the days when I did not dance, nothing. Zero. The corps de ballet were given $5 a day. Per diem.

Financial arrangements with performers in the Soviet state were always deep, dark secrets....It was clearly hinted that the sums we earned went to the treasury for the urgent needs of the socialist state.

Later it came to light where the hard currency went. For instance, the son of Andrei Kirilenko...regularly went off on African safari....For the amusement of the scions of Party fat cats, performers were deprived of their hard-earned wages, while sables, ancient Scythian wares, and paintings were sold for next to nothing. They took away the winnings of athletes.

Fainting from hunger became a daily occurrence....When travel abroad became common, the members of the Bolshoi Ballet troupe began packing their bags with long-lasting food. Just in case.

Toward the end of a trip, when the Moscow supplies were used up, the dancers would switch to local fare. Cat and dog food were particularly popular. Cheap and vitamin-rich. You felt very strong after animal food.

Part 1

Part 2

If you prefer, Jeff Beck playing Bolero


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