Is it her autobiography (I, Maya Plisetskaya, Moscow, 1994, English translation, Yale University Press, 2001; French translation, Gallimard, Paris, 1995) that made Dominique Delouche want to dedicate a film to this exceptional dancer?
Constructed on frequent comings and goings between Paris and Moscow, this document traces the extraordinary career of a dancer with a fiery temperament (born in 1925) who was long held under house arrest by the KGB, and her encounters with Maurice Béjart and Roland Petit.
Dominique Delouche weaves interviews from the present and images from archives to understand what forged Maya Plisetskaya’s will of iron.
From the dramatic events of her childhood – the arrest of her father declared enemy of the people and shot in 1937, then that of her mother – through to her interpretation, unique and copied time and again throughout the world, of the Lac des Cygnes (Swan Lake), where emotion blends into her gestural technique, this portrait highlights all the nuances of an extremely endearing personality, even in her excessiveness and coquetry!
In no particular order, she evokes her love for the Bolshoi where she danced for 56 years, Russian poetry… and her husband Rodion Shchedrin, composer at the Bolshoi. Finally, we see her transmitting her role in Lac des Cygnes (Swan Lake) in high-heeled shoes, repeating each step without a moment’s hesitation. Simply phenomenal!
Source : Fabienne Arvers
Maya Plisetskaya was born in Moscow on 20 November 1925, the daughter of an engineer. From 1932 to 1934 the family lived in Spitzbergen where her father was director of the coal mine 'Arctikugl'. In 1938 he was executed on Stalin's orders. Her mother, a silent-film actress, was deported to Kazakhstan for many years, being the wife of an 'enemy of the people'.
In 1934 ; she attended the ballet school of the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow. She studied there for six years with Yelisaveta P. Gerdt, one year with Maria M. Leonteva. She graduated from the Moscow Choreography School in 1943, and danced her first major role in Les Sylphides the same year. As Maya Plisetskaya kept playing the major roles in different major ballets, until she started to be regarded one of the best Russian dancers of classical and modern roles, even on an international level. Upon the retirement of Galina Ulanova as a dancer in 1960, Maya Plisetskaya became prima ballerina assoluta of the Bolshoi Theatre.
The 70s has seen her first choreographies, and she became artistic director to the Rome Opera Ballet in 1984. From those years until the end of her days, she is rewarded with all the prizes, medals and titles possible for her dancing career and her years of work. In 1994 was published her book I, Maya Plisetskaya, which had some editions in Russia and was translated in different languages of the world.
In 2000 the Bolshoi Theatre celebrates the 50th anniversary of Maya Plisetskaya’s artistic career. To this event Plisetskaya danced the miniature Ave Maya for the first time - a choreography that was presented to her by Maurice Bejart.
Source : Maïa Plissetskaïa Foundation
More information :
After Beaux-Arts (Fine Art School) studies and musical classes (piano and classical singing), Dominique Delouche met Federico Fellini and became his assistant ("Nights of Cabiria"). In 1960, he directed his first film « Le Spectre de la Danse ». Until 1985, he produced and directed short films, like « Aurore » et « La dame de Monte Carlo ». In 1968, he staged Danielle Darieux in “Twenty-Four Hours in the Life of a Woman", a Stefan Sweig novel 's adaptation selected for the 1968 Cannes Film Festival, and the musical theatre “Divine” (1975). He filmed other features like « Une étoile pour l’exemple » (1988), « L’homme de désir » (1970). He produced and filmed the opera “La voix humaine” (The Human Voice) for French television (text by Cocteau and music by Poulenc; directed by Georges Prêtre), with the soprano Denise Duval. His last film is "Balanchine in Paris" (2011). He also directed, created decors and costumes for the Opéra de Paris and for the Festival of Aix en Provence: “Werther”, “Le Roi malgré lui” (The Reluctant King) (1978), “Didon et Énée” (Dido and Æneas) (1972).
Source: Dominique Delouche's website
Production / Coproduction of the video work
Les Films du Prieuré, Muzzik, CNC, ministère de la Culture et de la Communication (DMDTS), Pierre Cardin, Cinémathèque de la danse