MOVEMENT STUDY: MAYA PLISETSKAYA

Today is the birthday of my grandmother Tess, (Bagtazo's namesake), so it's got me thinking about age. In my youth Tess often climbed the avocado tree in our backyard, using a bamboo stick she had split at the end to yank the fruit from the tree. Now at 83, she can no longer climb a tree, but back then when she did, I wondered how she was able, since I knew plenty of healthy people younger than her who were physically incapable.

Anyone who has seen how people in the Philippines climb palm trees to get fruit might understand how a woman in her 60s could still climb an avocado tree, but for most people in the US, a senior citizen who can climb a tree while wielding a stick with complete confidence is almost unheard of. Especially in the 80s and 90s. Fortunately for me, I think this means I have good genes, but I surely don't innately possess this skill because I am without a lifetime of practice.

So in effort to remind myself of the life-long dedication required in movement, I thought I'd share a film clip of Russian Prima Ballerina, Maya Plisetskaya dancing in the "Dying Swan" scene from Swan Lake in 2009 at age 61:

Plisetskaya was born in 1925, seven years before my grandmother, and was still performing ballet almost up to her death this year in 2015. Plisetskaya started dancing at age 9, which means she danced for nearly 80 years! And just think... at the time of this film, when she was 61, Pisetskaya was able to cambre forward and backwards while in half splits. All because she had the practice. (It does also help that she never injured herself to the point where movement became an issue, but my point is that she practiced so much that she prolonged her ability to move well beyond the average age).

So next time you let 3 weeks slide because perhaps you were busy getting married, going on a honeymoon and then doing market week... remind yourself of this beautiful video of Maya Plisetskaya moving with the grace of a swan. Because even when nearing death, her grace was a result of regular practice in movement as much as it was a result of her being an extraordinary dancer.


Courtney Cady, 2015