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Ballet Gala in memory of Maya Plisetskaya

London Coliseum Sunday 6 March 2016 7.00pm

The London Coliseum
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Ensemble Productions announces that London will pay a tribute to the legendary prima ballerina, Maya Plisetskaya, one of the foremost 20th-century ballerinas, on Sunday March 6, 2016 in an “Ave Maya” Gala at London Coliseum to celebrate the life and work of this extraordinary dancer, who died in May last year in Germany.

“Plisetskaya was never just a major balletic talent. She was absolute super-league” The Telegraph, 2006

Ensemble Productions is proud to announce “Ave Maya” a ballet gala in memory of the legendary Russian ballerina Maya Plisetskaya who would have celebrated her 90th birthday in November 2015. The Gala, under the artistic direction of Andris Liepa, will present world-renowned dancers performing her favourite roles as well as works by choreographers that were originally created for Maya Plisetskaya, including Bolero and Carmen by Alberto Alonso. To mark Plisetskaya’s passion for flamenco dance there will also be a special flamenco virtuoso number. The evening is part of the annual Russian Ballet Icons Gala series.

The programme, accompanied by the orchestra of the English National Ballet Philharmonic, will be performed by Maria Alexandrova (Bolshoi Theatre), Sergio Bernal (National Ballet of Spain), Claudio Coviello (La Scala), Marlon Dino (Bavarian State Ballet), Aurélie Dupont (previously of the Paris Opera Ballet), Matthew Golding (The Royal Ballet), Isaac Hernández, (English National Ballet), Kimin Kim (Mariinsky Theatre), Daria Klimentová, Maria Kochetkova (San Francisco Ballet), Liudmila Konovalova (Vienna State Ballet), Kristina Kretova (Bolshoi Theatre), Ekaterina Krysanova (Bolshoi Theatre), Lucía Lacarra (Bavarian State Ballet), Sarah Lamb (The Royal Ballet), Vladislav Lantratov (Bolshoi Theatre), Viktor Lebedev (Mikhailovsky Ballet), Andrei Merkuriev (Bolshoi Theatre), Hervé Moreau (Paris Opera Ballet), Vadim Muntagirov (The Royal Ballet), Marianela Núñez (The Royal Ballet), Yekaterina Osmolkina Mariinsky Ballet), Xander Parish (Mariinsky Ballet), Tamara Rojo (English National Ballet), Farukh Ruzimatov (Mikhailovsky Ballet), Polina Semionova (American Ballet Theatre), Kristina Shapran (Mariinsky Ballet), Daniil Simkin (American Ballet Theatre), Thiago Soares (The Royal Ballet), Ivan Vasiliev (American Ballet Theatre), Angelina Vorontsova (Mikhailovsky Ballet) and Igor Zelensky (Mariinsky Ballet).

The evening, which was originally planned by Maya herself, before her death, was intended to celebrate five decades of ballet and inspire future generations of ballerina’s. It will now take place in her honour to celebrate her life and work.

Olga Balakleets, Director of Ensemble Productions, said “Maya Plisetskaya was one of the best ballerina’s in the whole world, who has influenced ballet for so many dancers for five decades. She was renowned for her intense performances and redefined her art. She was a cultural icon of the 20th Century.”

Andris Liepa, one of the world’s leading ballet choreographers, will direct the gala performance at the Coliseum.

Andris Liepa, Artistic Director, said “We were working together on the programming for this gala which was supposed to celebrate Maya’s 90th anniversary. It will be our honour and responsibility to carry out her wishes in this evening”.

Maya Plisetskaya was born on 20 November 1925 in Moscow, into a prominent Jewish family, most of whom were involved in theatre or film. She studied ballet aged nine and first performed at the Bolshoi Theatre aged eleven. She joined the Bolshoi Ballet company when she was eighteen, quickly rising to become their leading soloist.

Her early years were marked by political repression. “Endless suffering and humiliation fill my memory” she wrote in her autobiography I, Maya Plisetskaya, published in 1991. In 1938, her father was arrested and later executed during the Stalinist purges. Her mother was arrested soon after and, with Maya's seven-month-old baby brother, sent to a labour camp (Gulag) in Kazakhstan for the next three years. Plisetskaya was taken in by her maternal aunt, ballerina Sulamith Messerer, until her mother was released in 1941.

As a soloist, Plisetskaya created a number of leading roles, including Moiseyev’s Spartacus (1958), Grigorovich’s The Stone Flower (1959), Aurora in Grigorovich’s The Sleeping Beauty (1963), Alberto Alonso’s Carmen Suite (1967), written especially for her, and Béjart’s Isadora (1976). Amongst her most acclaimed roles was Odette-Odile in Swan Lake (1947), which she later said she prepared for by studying the movements of actual swans in the park. Her husband, composer Rodion Shchedrin, wrote the score to a number of her ballets.

Fearing that she might defect to the West, Soviet authorities banned Plisetskaya from travelling abroad until 1959, when Nikita Khrushchev lifted the travel ban in response to her growing popularity. She was the first Soviet ballet dancer who managed to overcome the Iron Curtain. Khrushchev, who had rehabilitated Plisetskaya's parents along with thousands of other victims of Stalin, described her as “not only as the best ballerina in the Soviet Union, but the best in the world”.

From 1994 she presided over Maya, the annual international ballet competitions. In 1996 she was named President of the Imperial Russian Ballet. She said that one of the secrets of her success was moderation. Unlike many young ballerinas who tortured themselves with endless rehearsals to gain sought-after excellence, Plisetskaya confessed she never burned the midnight oil, allowing herself to enjoy exercise instead of hating it. She died in Munich on 2 May 2015 from a heart attack. Her death was a huge loss not only for Russian culture, but also for the whole world of ballet.

The evening, is being organised by Ensemble Productions with the support from the Bolshoi Theatre, and is being sponsored by LetterOne, the international investment business.

6 March 2016