Maya Plisetskaya 80th birthday

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Maya Plisetskaya is without question one of the greatest ballet figures of our time. This Gala was a fitting tribute to her life’s work and performed by today’s greatest dancers in her presence at London’s coveted Royal Opera House. The audience was joyously reminded of ballet’s living traditions by such dancers as Gary Avis, Leanne Benjamin, Federico Bonelli, Darcey Bussell, Alina Cojacaru, Mara Galeazzi, Ilya Kuznetsov, Sarah Lamb, Ilze Liepa, Ulyana Lopatkina, Roberta Marquez, Jose Martinez, Steven McRae, Andrei Merkuriev, Irma Nioradze, Marianela Nunez, Ivan Putrov, Tamara Rojo, Farukh Ruzimatov, Viacheslav Samodurov, Thiago Soares, Galina Stepanenko, Andrey Uvarov, Edward Watson, Miyako Yoshida, Svetlana Zakharova and Igor Zelensky. Maya Plisetskaya delighted the audience by making a special appearance in Maurice Béjart’s Ave Maya.

Maya Plisetskaya is a Prima Ballerina Assoluta, People’s Artist of Russia and a holder of the Lenin Prize, however no mere title can describe the place she has carved for herself in the lore of ballet. Plisetskaya came to symbolise the Bolshoi Theatre in its glory years even despite being forbidden to travel outside the Soviet Union until 1959.

Born into a great dancing family, Maya Plisetskaya joined the Bolshoi Ballet in 1943. She was to make her name in the role of Odette/Odile in Swan Lake and the title role of Raymonda. In Britain, she became perhaps best known for her Dying Swan, a tiny but utterly compelling part of her vast repertoire. But her legend owes just as much to a rejection of ballet convention and to her extraordinary energy. She inspired new and cutting-edge roles by such figures as Roland Petit and Maurice Béjart.


12 February 2006


Royal Opera House, London


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