‘People in the West don’t understand nothing. Even the new Russian generation don’t understand anything at all. You don’t know, and it’s better you don’t.’ Maya Plisetskaya scrutinises me with her beautiful, kohl-rimmed, 88-year-old eyes, a gaze made wary in childhood, when her father was shot as an enemy of the Soviet people, her mother jailed, and her Jewish family broken by persecution.
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Levsha is performed by the Mariinsky Opera at the Barbican Hall, London, on 4 November. There is a pre-concert discussion with Shchedrin and Plisetskaya at Milton Court Concert Hall.
Ismene Brown is The Spectator’s dance critic. She was Daily Telegraph dance critic from 1993 to 2008.
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