If anybody should tell you that the Bolshoi ballet’s Maya Plisetskaya is the most exciting dancer extant, better not say no without having some persuasive arguments, for she very well may be… Two points about her are not even open to argument: one, that she is a beautiful woman and, the other, that she drenches the stage with movement much as a hand on the switchboard drenches it with light.
Movement is the central truth of her art; she fairly devours it — and, indeed, vice versa. All her dramatic power and passion, her wit and allure, are simply fuel for the projection of those potent dynamic muscular rhythms into space — and through it and over it and about it — to its ultimate conquest, and ours…
To see a body so responsive to the theatrical moods of the passing moment, so creatively energized, and so completely without technical problems is quite an experience. And when it belongs to so enchanting a personality, it becomes doubly so. No wonder audiences scream and yell with delight whenever she appears.
Spasibo, Nikita Sergeyevitch!
John Martin, New York Times, 24 May 1959.
Out of the 19th century, with which classical ballet continues to be associated, through the twentieth, she stepped lightly into the 21st. In creating for her a costume for the 21st century, I was expressing my delight in her talent, fearlessness, eternal youth and in the fact her art is always ahead of its time. The costume was ‘built up’ on a computer, and so that it would reflect the play of light — I equipped it with tiny electric light bulbs — my beautiful Model must be in continual movement. And this is exactly how I conceive of Maya, she is Nature’s super high-tech and her basic principle is eternal movement.
Whichever role she danced, I sensed in her an immense life force, sensuality and above all — contemporaneity.
She is unique. Everything about her is out of the ordinary — gaze, face, body. This divine body cannot be compared even to the cello, or violin, or, indeed, to any other musical instrument. It has an incredible ability to express the subtlest emotions of the heart. A natural ability. To possess it, one would have to be born a genius.
The extraordinary thing is she has the same make-up as we do. The same mix of love, hostility, vindictiveness and, probably, malice. But it is all a question of a unique combination of these characteristics, of dosage, proportions. And, of course, of a talent for expressing emotion via the body that defies understanding. How do we ordinary mortals express our emotions in movement? Just march out and slam the door?
The Humpbacked Horse — To Maya Plisetskaya
Anna Karenina — To Maya Plisetskaya, unfailingly
The Seagull — To Maya Plisetskaya, always
Lady with the Dog — To Maya Pliseskaya, forever
A great ballerina of modern times, you have been applauded by audiences on all continents, who delighted in your beauty, grace and unique creative longevity. Your unsurpassed dancing skills have left an indelible mark in the hearts of all those who were lucky enough to see you on stage.
The State Academic Bolshoi Theatre of Russia.