Soviet ballerina Ekaterina Maximova
Outstanding Soviet ballerina Ekaterina Maximova was born on February 1, 1939 in Moscow. Her father, Sergei Maksimov was an engineer and her mother Tatyana Maximova – journalist and editor of the publishing house. Grandpa of Ekaterina Maximova – Gustav Shpet was a Russian philosopher, psychologist, art theorist, translator of philosophical and artistic literature. Moreover, among Maksimovs’ relatives were composer Rachmaninoff and pre-revolutionary Minister Guchkov. Later, Ekaterina Maximova told: “Nevertheless, I grew up an ordinary girl. Like everyone in the USSR, I was Little Octobrist, Pioneer, Komsomol member. We did not emigrate to the West, like some of our friends. I could not break away from Russia, mother, friends. I could not imagine life without my native Moscow, Kostroma village Ryzhevka where Volodya and I bought a house.”
Maximova wanted to dance since childhood. Her mom hesitated a long time before she took a girl to the ballet school. But the significant role has played dancer Geltser, who lived in the same house with the Maximovs. He noticed unmistakable ballet data in young Katya Maximova. Katya was thin, light, proportional, agile and graceful. And very suitable for ballet.
In 1949 Katya Maximova was admitted to the Moscow Ballet School. Her first teacher was L.I.Rafailova, who has managed to reach out to the capable, but mischievous wayward pupil. She knew immediately that Katya Maksimova could not be forced to do anything – she can only be interested. Rafailova noted the impressionability of the girl and turned her attention to the emotional side of music, able to inspire Katya to serious training.
Katya was glad when participated in the Bolshoi Theatre – Opera and Ballet, where she played children’s roles. Even in first class, having studied for a few months, she, for the first time in her life, appeared on stage of the Bolshoi Theater – the scene, which later became the home to her. At first, she appeared in small roles in the children’s opera performances, and soon she was entrusted with the role in the ballet “Cinderella” – Kate was a bird in the retinue of Spring fairy. These performances were very popular with the girls, and she did everything with great diligence, beginning to understand that without the hard training to become a real dancer is impossible. She liked the role of a squirrel in the fairy tale “Jack the Frost”. She received this role, studying in second grade. She danced it so well, with such liveliness and grace that has been noted by critics.
The school choreographers prepared roles specifically for Maximova: in the 7th grade she performed miniature by Vladimir Varkovitsky “Nightingale” to the music of Alexander Alyabiev. Kasian Goleyzovsky set for her and I.Khmelnitsky “Romance” to the music of Sergei Rachmaninoff. In 1960, Kasian Goleyzovsky created for Maximova “Mazurka” to the music of Alexander Scriabin, and “Fantasia” to music by Sergei Vasilenko, which she danced with Vladimir Vasiliev.
In 1962, she first participated in the “Nutcracker” ballet, which later stayed for a long time in her life. She performed the role of snowflakes, dolls, girl Masha, danced the pas de trois with her classmate Vladimir Vasiliev, with whom she was subsequently tied by the fate, on the stage and in life.
Ekaterina Maximova told: “Volodya and me were in the same class of ballet school. We studied together, as we can say, sat at the same desk together. After school both of us were taken to the Bolshoi Theater, and there we have worked all our life side by side. I can not say that we fell in love at first sight. For a long time we had to get accustomed to each other, know each other. The time was different. We were happy just to walk down the street, sit on a bench. If we were hungry, we went to the dining room of MAT, it was possible to buy potatoes and buckwheat. And it was enough for us. Of course, we had problems. Volodya enjoyed great success with women, he had a passion. But, probably, our relations were tested. And finally came the moment when we realized: we need each other”.
After “The Nutcracker” to Maximova came success. Katya, a student of eighth grade, won the role of Princess, which has always played the ninth grade graduates. With this role, she won her first gold medal at the All-Union Ballet Competition in 1957.
Maximova danced in the school concert in honor of the Queen Elizabeth of Belgium visiting school, as well as for Paris “Grand Opera” in Moscow. That was she, whom Harald Lander chose to display his principles of design of classic lesson.
In 1958, Maximova graduated from Moscow State University in the class of Elizaveta Gerdt. This wonderful ballerina of the Mariinsky Theatre of St. Petersburg instilled in her pupil not only impeccable classical style, but also the artistry, culture, fine intonation, taught personal experience of music. “It’s a great, great school. This is a great culture. This is an amazing woman, a professional of the highest class. What I got from her – happiness,”- said Ekaterina Maximova. Elizaveta Gerdt, Vladimir Vasiliev and, of course, my mother – these are the people who made me believe in myself, to shine on the stage.
Maximova began to work at the Bolshoi Theatre after graduating in 1952. There she danced in her favorite “The Nutcracker” – Pas de deux with Vladimir Vasiliev, “Giselle”, “Swan Lake.” Soon, she began her first collaboration with a young choreographer Yuri Grigorovich, who worked at that time in Leningrad and was invited for the ballet “The Stone Flower”. It was in 1958 when the theater youth were given the opportunity to experiment, to try new forms, to seek new ways in art.
In accordance with the trend of the times and his own ideas about the development of Ballet, Grigorovich in his statement tried to show not abstract images of the Ural tale “The Stone Flower”, but specific individuals and their experiences and feelings, strengths and weaknesses. His productions have always been very strong dramatic element, and the talent of Ekaterina Maximova could not be more in line with the objectives of the choreographer. She was able to show the dynamics of the character, consistently moving from lyrical image of Russian women to the nature of strong, able to fight for her love. The production of “The Stone Flower” suggested two of performers, and Grigorovich chose Maximova and Vasiliev. In his view, Maximova and Vasiliev looked human beings on stage.
Soviet ballerina Ekaterina Maximova immediately found her place on the big stage. Her purity, the children’s perception of the world, great charm, extraordinary acting ability, unusual external data allowed her almost immediately after joining the Bolshoi Theatre to receive serious party of which the ballerina dreamed for several years. The ease, lightness, grace, a kind of plastic combined with unusual candor in embodiment of scenic images at once attracted the attention of viewers, critics and choreographers. Already in 1959, the year after graduation, she went on her first foreign tour to the US and Canada. Responses about it were the most enthusiastic: “This girl is able to melt the most hardened hearts.” After this trip Ekaterina Maximova got a nickname given to her by the press: “little elf”.
The success accompanied her constantly. The same year Maximov won the gold medal in the classical dance competition at the World Youth Festival in Vienna. Again he went on a tour to China, then followed Denmark, Norway, Finland.
In 1960 was the first work of Soviet ballerina Ekaterina Maximova in the film – she starred in the film-ballet “Cinderella”, dancing fairy of Spring. The following year the young ballerina became the face of Russian ballet abroad, starring in the role of Giselle in the film “the USSR with an open heart”, designed to show to the West. The film premiered in Paris, and this visit to France brought the dancer another joy – it was a kind of a wedding trip of Ekaterina Maximova and Vladimir Vasiliev.
The success of the foreign tour and admiring reviews of criticism didn’t stop ballerina from continuing serious work under the guidance of recognized masters. Creative forces of Maximova, her artistic abilities and her own perception of art were much wider. Over time, she danced not only dramatic, but also tragic roles, creating a strong-willed character.
The sixties – the years of creativity and innovation. Vasiliev and Maximova were the “the sixties” generation on the ballet stage. Fully in the spirit of the time were images of Icarus, aspiring to the heights unknown in his flight, and his faithful friend, inspiring her beloved and at the same time seeking to protect him from danger. Refusal of personal motives for the immense, universal goal – the main motive of this ballet, ballet of era of space exploration, the era of the beautiful dreams of youth.
Success followed success, the creative forces of Maximova grew simultaneously with the experience. The duo Ekaterina Maximova and Vladimir Vasiliev has become not only a symbol of the Bolshoi Theater of those years, but also the embodiment of joyful, free dance, the beauty of human bodies and movements. This “celebrity couple” has traveled the world, praising the art of ballet. And in the best theaters in the world, and in the small towns of our country, they danced equally well.
However, the continuous rise stopped abruptly. In the life of Soviet ballerina Ekaterina Maximova occurred tragedy – in 1975 as a result of severe trauma she was confined to a hospital bed. First, the injury seemed less serious, she was preparing for the “Spartak” ballet film. But such haste has led to even more dire consequences. Ekaterina Maximova resumed rehearsals and even began to participate in the shooting, but the result was again the hospital with a serious spinal injury. Ballerina was doomed to months of complete immobility. She could not imagine her life without dance, but doctors said that the greatest happiness for Maximova is just the possibility of a simple walk. But even that was in serious doubt.
Treatment lasted for more than a year. Dancer did not want and could not believe the verdict of doctors, and began intensive restoration of motor function. She was supported by the attending physician, who developed a special program for her. But only doctors’ efforts were not enough. To help could only ballerina herself. Overcoming the pain and helplessness, she stubbornly continued to work, day after day, achieving small successes. Nearby were always her mother and Vladimir Vasiliev.
The experiences of suffering could not but affected her perception of the world, forced to rethink many things. Overcoming illness, fear and pain from injury, she appeared on the stage of the Bolshoi Theatre in the role of Giselle, which she danced at the very beginning of her career. But now her Giselle was different – she expressed a farewell to the illusions, met with the harsh reality, the dark side of life. The naivete has been lost, but there was a premonition of tragedy.
Maximova’s first job on television was the film-ballet to the music of Prokofiev ‘Trapeze’, where the dancer performed the role of a girl serving in the traveling circus. Television gave the actress the opportunity to express her gift of subtle humor, eccentric, grotesque. She was able to uncover the talent of comedic and dramatic actress.
In 1972 was filmed “Duet” about creativity of Maximova and Vasiliev. In this film were included several fragments of their works. However, in general, “Duet” did not bring her satisfaction.
Maksimova has always believed that “no matter where the dance – it is important to dance.” She has always worked.
In 1980, Maximova graduated from State Institute of Theater and Cinema, specialty “teacher-choreographer” and since 1982 has taught at the Department of Choreography of the State Institute of Theatrical Arts of Lunacharsky (GITIS, now the Russian Academy of Theatre Arts), where in 1996 she was awarded the academic title of professor.
Since 1990, Maximova was the teacher-tutor of theater “Kremlin Ballet”, and since 1998 – Ballet Mistress of the Bolshoi Theatre. Among her pupils were Galina Stepanenko, Marianne Ryzhkina, Lunkina and Anna Nikulina.
Last time Soviet ballerina Ekaterina Maximova acted on the ballet stage in 1999. April 24, 2009 Ekaterina was present at the party in the House of the actor. April 26 she spent the whole day at the Bolshoi Theatre. April 28 was to be held a rehearsal of “Swan Lake.” But Maximova did not come. The cause was death of a ballerina – acute heart failure. Ekaterina Maximova died April 28, 2009 at night, in a dream. Her elderly mother Tatiana Gustavovna entering her daughter’s room, found her dead. Vladimir Vasiliev was at this time in Naples, where he staged a performance.
Soviet ballerina Ekaterina Maximova