The Dying Swan: Music by Camille Saint- Saëns (Dance video, 3.28 mins)

Legendary Soviet ballerina Maya Plisetkaya here dances to Camille Saint- Saëns’ ballet music The Dying Swan. By 1960, at the age of 35, Plisetkaya  had become star dancer or prima ballerina assoluta at the Bolshoi theatre in Moscow. This classic performance took place in 1975, over 40 years ago, when Maya was 50 years old. 

One of her fans raves in a YouTube comment: “Rest in peace, Maya Plisetkaya! We will never forget you, MAYA BALLERINA ASSOLUTA !!! Thank you very, very much for sharing such a memento of beauty and grace.”

Maya Plisetkaya was a Russian Jewess who died last year at the age of 89. Here is a picture of Maya taken in 2011, at the age of 85, looking remarkably young for her age.

Acknowledgements to our Russian commenter ‘Rousso’ (who may himself be Jewish) for providing a link to this beautiful video.

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9 thoughts on “The Dying Swan: Music by Camille Saint- Saëns (Dance video, 3.28 mins)

  1. Thanks for posting this.

    But, she was not a “Soviet ballerina”. She was a Soviet-born Russian ballerina. This is Russian Ballet, a form of art that originated in Russia, and thus, she was a Russian ballerina. Arts and politics don’t mix.

    This particular piece is one of those that characterize the Russian ballet school and set it apart from the others. The Dying Swan was created as “almost an improvisation” by the groundbreaking, so he is described, Russian choreographer Michael Fokine in 1905 and was presented in Europe for the first time during a tour of the troupe of prominent Russian artists, titled the Ballets Russes.

    As Fokine was asked about it, he said: “It was a combination of masterful technique with expressiveness. It was like a proof that the dance could and should satisfy not only the eye, but through the medium of the eye should penetrate the soul.” Some critics regard the Ballets Russes as the greatest dance company of the 20th century, that revolutionised western culture forever.

    The company’s productions created a huge sensation, completely reinvigorating the art of performing dance, and significantly affecting the course of musical composition.

    Jack Anderson, an American poet, critic and arts historian, in his book Ballet & Modern Dance remarks that “unlike that of any other country in the world, the most prestigious of the ballet troupes were those attached to the state-supported theatres”. In Imperial Russia, the art scene flourished and blossomed as a result of that.

    At the time of its introduction in Paris, the Russian ballet surpassed all foreign schools by such a large margin that it was met with both admiration from the critics and fear from the French nationalists, who published numerous xenophobic articles in the press, assessing the success of the troupe as not less than cultural invasion.

    The most paranoid and barbarous of the frogs eaters tended to express their impressions in terms such as “onslaught”, “conquest” and “infestation”, and one of them, Maurice Lefevre, suggested that the French “need to do some soul-searching and ask whether our guests are not about to become our masters.” Nationalism is poison.

    Speaking of which, Maya Plisetskaya was not a Jewess. She was a Russian of a Jewish descent.

    Her mother was a silent-film actress, her maternal uncle and aunt were also ballet dancers. Her brother became a famous choreographer, and her niece also became a ballerina. Her father was an engineer. In 1938 he was arrested and executed. Her mother was arrested soon after that and sent to a labor camp. Maya and her little brother were taken in by their aunt.

    Later she was banned from the Bolshoi Ballet’s first major international tour. For sixteen years she could not tour outside the communist states. Plisetskaya was treated as a “provincial artist, consigned to unrewarding bus tours, exclusively for local consumption”, as someone recounts. Her travel ban was lifted in 1959, when she was 34. Soon after she became an international superstar.

    During her travels she appeared as guest artist with the Paris Opera Ballet, Ballet National de Marseilles, and Ballet of the 20th Century in Brussels. She became friends with a number of celebrities and influential people in Europe and the United States, such as Pierre Cardin, Leonard Bernstein, John Steinbeck, Natalie Wood and Robert F. Kennedy.

    As she recalls in her memoirs, once Ingrid Bergman suggested she “flee Communism”, telling her “I will help you.” But in spite of all that, and considering her personal experience this is almost incredible, she declined that although her opportunities were unlimited. During the same period of time a lot of Russian dancers defected, but Plisetskaya refused to defect.

    And she was praised. Some said, her skill as a dancer changed the world of ballet, setting a higher standard both in terms of technical brilliance and dramatic presence. Critic Walter Terry described one performance: “What she did was to discard her own identity as a ballerina and even as a human and to assume the characteristics of a magical creature.”

    Truman Capote remembered a performance in Moscow, seeing her as “a white spectre leaping in smooth rainbow arcs.” On her 80th birthday, the Financial Times wrote: “She was, and still is, a star, ballet’s monstre sacre, the final statement about theatrical glamour, a flaring, flaming beacon in a world of dimly twinkling talents, a beauty in the world of prettiness.

    According to her last will and testament, she was to be cremated, and after the death of her widower, Rodion Shchedrin, a Russian composer who is also to be cremated, their ashes are to be combined and spread over Russia.

  2. Simply, sublime.
    Thank you ADMIN, we really needed a break from Politics, and thank you RUSSO for the added info about Maya Plisetkaya… the ballerina swan .

  3. “Simply Sublime”
    I second that, Sean! I never got to see the Bolshoi when I was in the USSR. Booked solid! However, I did manage to get to the Kirov in Leningrad. The Russians produce some fine ballerinas! Thank you, Lasha for showing this and thank you, Rousso!

  4. So who said this swan was dying? Saint Saens?

    The music conveys the simple beauty of a swan. This is originally from his “Carnival of the Animals”. To hear the music, and then conclude that it sounds like death based on the title of the opera diminishes the beauty of LIFE in the creation of this being we call a swan.

    Are you all seeing how this is yet another perpetuation of the death culture we’re all in the midst of? As inocuous as it seems?


    1. B-Hawk – –

      Interesting perspective. I agree.

      Pharisee-Jews in Russia continue to glorify death. They downgrade life.

      Bring back the wall…. and stop the white women slave trafficking, and their deaths.

      1. not really … those hands … maybe, “if pigs could fly”.

        well, some jewesses rus ballerinas sure can dance, can’t deny that.
        And Rousso is right that she is not really a jewess, not only because she refused to jump soviet ship, which by that time was no usual bed of roses for jews but she got herself cremated, an absolute halachic nono.
        Recall all the rabbi medics del morte who swarm all over suicide bombing scenes in squatland with spatulas to scrape exalted, ineffable jew material off walls and stuff for proper disposal in a jew cemetery.
        (and ask yourself why they never bothered recapturing any of the 6 mil … could they in truth be Deniers, oy gevalt)

  5. No matter how you cut it Camille Saint-Saens is no “Fiddler On The Roof”.
    (Thank you Darkmoon for publishing “Invictus” I have set the poem as an Art Song for Baritone and piano.)

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