Ekaterina Sergeevna Maximova (1939 – 2009) was a Soviet and Russian ballerina of international renown. In the next few blogs, I will share a few inspiring lessons I gained from a book in which she spoke of herself and her life.
May we all be inspired by Maximova to honour those around us and to honour ourselves in our talents and our abilities, despite trials and difficulties, and despite the people around us and the circumstances we are in.
This is particularly important as we seek to lead where we are planted.
LESSON #1: KNOW WHAT IS TRULY IMPORTANT IN LIFE (HINT: IT’S NOT MONEY OR FAME)
“To many people the life of a stage artist appears to be exceptional and wonderful, full of triumphs and the adoration of fans.
Yes, it is true I experienced moments of genuine happiness time and again, but there were also failures, mistakes and disappointments.
What, then, was the most important thing for me? Looking back on the years that have passed, I can say that my happiness consists in being alive, in loving and having real friends as well as an occupation to which I am devoted with all my heart.”
LESSON #2: BE SATISFIED WITH WHAT YOU HAVE, BUT NEVER BE SATISFIED WITH WHAT YOU HAVE DONE
“My life has always been filled up with dancing, with ballet, and I would not exchange that for any other profession. I am also a greedy person, for like all artists I am never satisfied with what I have done.”
LESSON #3: ACKNOWLEDGE AND APPRECIATE THOSE WHO HAVE SACRIFIED FOR YOU AND/OR WHO HAVE SOWN IN YOUR LIFE
“When I was born in 1939, Mama gave up her job, but her paid maternity leave soon came to an end and we started running out of money to live on, so when I was just nine months old she had to go and look for work again.
She managed to find a job at the Moscow Conservatory, namely on the staff of the Conservatory’s newspaper, which had quite a large print run. She also did a lot of work at home in the evenings and at night. Indeed, one of my most cherished childhood memories is this: still half asleep, I opened my eyes and saw Mama sitting there, bent over some papers and working. It was dead quiet, the room was dark except for the soft yellow glow of her table lamp, and all this made me feel so calm, so cosy and protected…
Mama has always been at my side. I have all my life been under her wing. My life was hers too: she took part in everything and she probably had to sacrifice a lot of things for my sake because very often she ended up doing not what she actually wanted to, but what was necessary for me.
By taking upon herself most of our household chores and worries, she gave me the opportunity to dedicate myself fully to my profession.
Mama not only looks after the house, but also takes care of the archive of material about my work and is even willing to talk to journalists on my behalf. Amazingly, she somehow manages to find time for everything!
Mama started taking me to the theatre very early on, both to plays and to musical productions. I liked going to the theatre very much, and so not letting me attend a performance was the punishment I most dreaded as a girl.
And to this very day she still regards me as a child: ‘You’re far too lightly dressed… You haven’t finished your tea… It’s time you went to bed…'”