The duet, recognized all over the world, existed not only on stage, but also in life. The great dancers have been married for almost 50 years.
“We’ve been studying each other for a long time”
They met in childhood, when their mothers brought them to a ballet school. Teachers often put Katya and Volodya in a pair, but they didn't feel much sympathy for each other. Love came later, in adolescence. Their relationship was not cloudless: they broke up, dated other people. But they kept each other in sight all the time.
A honeymoon in Paris
After graduating from school in 1958, Vasiliev and Maximova were admitted to the Bolshoi Theater. And only a few years later, when both became prominent artists of the ballet company and received public recognition, they realized that they were made for each other.
In 1961, a modest wedding took place. They got married at a registry office almost on the run, between rehearsals, and left for Paris the next day.
This official travel to the foreign premiere of the film The USSR with an Open Heart, in which they played the lead roles, became their little honeymoon trip.
Madame No and Mister Yes
In her autobiographical book Madame No, Ekaterina Maximova wrote:
Only the support of Vladimir, who got enthusiastic about new ideas very quickly and grasped creative opportunities on the fly, helped her cope with her fears, insecurity and closed personality.
They coped together
The family had a difficult test to pass in 1975. During a rehearsal for the ballet Ivan the Terrible, Ekaterina Maximova suffered a serious spinal injury. Doctors said that she should forget about the stage. The question was whether she would be able to walk on her own, let alone dance.
Thanks to the perseverance of Vasiliev, who couldn’t look calmly at the suffering of his wife, Ekaterina was admitted to the Kremlin hospital for treatment. It was there that they got her back on her feet, and she was able to begin preparations for her return to the stage.
The recovery was hard. Maximova had to do special gymnastics and massage every day, overcoming pain. It cost her a lot of effort. But the husband was always there.
On the day when she took the stage of the Bolshoi Theater for the first time after her illness to dance Giselle, everyone was worried. Ekaterina’s relatives, colleagues and devoted admirers were under a lot of stress the whole performance, wishing: “If only everything would work out.” Vladimir, who danced together with her in a pair, tried to be closer to support. Everything went great, she did it. They say that the ovation at the Bolshoi that night was so thunderous few people get a chance to hear.
The symbol of the Soviet ballet
The pair of Maximova and Vasiliev was recognized worldwide as the perfect classical ballet duet. They danced in France, Italy, England, USA, Canada, South America and many other countries, becoming a symbol of the Bolshoi of those years.
When Franco Zeffirelli was shooting his film-opera La Traviata, he could imagine only this couple performing the matador and the Spanish dancer. The maestro trusted them so much that he allowed Vladimir to choreograph the dance on his own.
Respect and kinship of souls
They both used to say that you can’t build a happy life together on passion alone. It requires something more: care and support, deep respect and kinship of souls. And they had it all.
Creativity as the meaning of life
Ekaterina Sergeevna died in her sleep in the spring of 2009, at the age of 70. Creativity helped Vladimir Viktorovich survive the bereavement. He threw himself into work. He staged performances and ballet miniatures, performed, wrote poetry.
Now, he is painting: