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Maya Plisetskaya, one of the world’s foremost dancers, rose to become a prima ballerina of Moscow’s Bolshoi Ballet after an early life filled with tragedy and loss. In this spirited memoir, Plisetskaya reflects on her personal and professional odyssey, presenting a unique view of the life of a Soviet artist during the troubled period from the late 1930s to the 1990s.
Plisetskaya recounts the execution of her father in the Great Terror and her mother’s exile to the Gulag. She describes her admission to the Bolshoi in 1943, the roles she performed there, and the endless petty harassments she endured, from both envious colleagues and Party officials. Refused permission for six years to tour with the company, Plisetskaya eventually performed all over the world, working with such noted choreographers as Roland Petit and Maurice Béjart. She recounts the tumultuous events she lived through and the fascinating people she met among them the legendary ballet teacher Agrippina Vaganova, George Balanchine, Frank Sinatra, Rudolf Nureyev, and Dmitri Shostakovich. And she provides fascinating details about testy cocktail-party encounters with Khrushchev, tours abroad when her meager per diem allowance brought her close to starvation, and KGB plots to capitalize on her friendship with Robert Kennedy. Gifted, courageous, and brutally honest, Plisetskaya brilliantly illuminates the world of Soviet ballet during an era that encompasses both repression and cultural détente.
Still prima ballerina assoluta with the Bolshoi Ballet, Maya Plisetskaya also travels around the world performing and lecturing. At the Bolshoi’s gala celebrating her 75th birthday, President Vladimir Putin presented her with Russia’s highest civilian honor, the medal for service to the Russian state, second degree. Tim Scholl is professor of Russian language and literature at Oberlin College. Antonina W. Bouis is the prize-winning translator of more than fifty books, including fiction, nonfiction, and memoirs by such figures as Andrei Sakharov, Elena Bonner, and Dmitri Shostakovich.
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Maya Plisetskaya travels around the world performing and lecturing. At the Bolshoi’s gala celebrating her 75th birthday, President Vladimir Putin presented her with Russia’s highest civilian honor, the medal for service to the Russian state, second degree.
This is much more than an artistic memoir it is a courageous account of an era. Plisetskaya was born in Moscow in 1925, joined the Bolshoi Ballet in 1943, and became one of its most acclaimed prima ballerinas (and one of the best-known in the West), performing into the 1990s. But as she makes clear, her life has been one of daily struggle. Plisetskaya's father, a rising apparatchik in the coal industry, was executed in 1935. Her mother, an actress, was then sentenced to eight years in prison. Taken in by a ballerina aunt, Pisetskaya was allowed to continue her dance training; but a pattern of persecution by authorities had been established. Even after she was well established at the Bolshoi, and despite years of pleading, Plisetskaya was forbidden to tour outside the country until 1959, and then she went under tight guard, always returning home, even during the years of the notable defections of Nureyev, Makarova and Baryshnikov. In Moscow, she was trotted out to perform for visiting dignitaries (Mao, Ribbentrop and Tito among them) and was routinely humiliated and artistically encumbered by a punitive bureaucracy. Plisetskaya says she's unable to put into words exactly why she never defected her marriage to a Russian composer was part of it. Every page attests to bitter, poignant regrets. Her account is sometimes rambling, sometimes garbled in translation; but Plisetskaya makes horrifyingly clear the life of an honored artist in her homeland: the artistic paucity (in contrast with the "Balanchine years" in the U.S.) is one element; the degradation of daily life for Soviet citizens is another; and Plisetskaya, as is her reputation, pulls no punches here. (Oct.)Forecast: Plisetskaya is a major ballet star, and her memoirs will sell well among dance lovers.
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Book Description Yale University Press, 2001. Hardcover. Condition: New. Never used!. Seller Inventory # P110300088574
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