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Plisetskaya (Maya) Papers, 1956-1990

- Biography


Maya Plisetskaya was born in Moscow in 1925, the oldest in a family of three children.

In 1932 the family was sent to Spitzbergen off the coast of Norway, in the Artic Circle, where her father worked for Arktikugal (Arctic Coal). Plisetskaya returned to Moscow by herself in ca. 1934, so that she could study ballet. The rest of her family returned to Moscow in the summer of 1935. On April 30, 1937 her father was arrested. This was the last time she saw him, and in 1989 she learned that he had been executed by firing squad January 7, 1938. Her mother was considered an enemy of the state because of her husband and was arrested in 1937 while pregnant with their youngest child. She was finally released and returned to Moscow in April 1941.

Plisetskaya graduated from school June 21, 1941. She began her professional life in ballet the next day, the same day that Germany invaded its former ally the Soviet Union. The family evacuated to Sverdlovsk in September that same year. At some point Plisetskaya left (without permission) and returned to Moscow and her ballet studies. A second set of examinations and graduation were held in March 1943. She passed. But admission into the Bolshoi contained endless petty harassments from envious colleagues and party officials.

She was refused permission to tour with the company for six years, but in 1959 was finally permitted to tour in the United States of America. She eventually performed all over the world.

Plisetskaya married the Russian composer, Rodin Shchedrin, on October 2, 1958. The couple have no children.

Plisetskaya travels the world extensively lecturing and performing. She was director of the Theatro Lirico National de Espaņa. In 1991, King Juan Carlos of Spain awarded her the Gold Medal of Fine Arts. In 2000 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.

She and Shchedrin currently live in Herradura, Spain.

Administrative Information Table of Contents Scope and Content Note