Terpsichore is now in Sagittarius, the sign of international affairs, media, culture, and broadcasting- a perfect time for dance all around the world to be shared and celebrated!
Also a perfect time for the following to be released:
Review of Memoir by Eva Maze, With Ballet in My Soul, Adventures of a Globetrotting Impresario, by Joey Lorraine
A lush, historically mesmerizing memoir of a Romanian immigrant whose passion for ballet forged her into an unprecedented cultural ambassador , Eva’s Maze’s memoir, With Ballet in My Soul, Adventures of a Globetrotting Impresario, is one of a kind. At the onset of her career, in New Delhi India, Eva Maze went on to become a mogul in a field previously dominated by men- a standout achievement in the 1950’s. With the support of her late husband, Oscar Maze, an Air Force private who later joined the flight operation division of Pan Am Airlines, her travels took her around the world, where she met a plethora of artists, diplomats, and producers, and evolved into a most unique, prolific impresario.
A pleasurable read, yet grand in its time line (Ms. Maze is 95 years old), the book is beautifully designed, well structured, and emotionally honest. Divided into ten action filled chapters that span 7 countries and 10 cities, it’s the next best thing to packing your bags for a world adventure. Don’t be fooled by the title however, for although this memoir is clearly about dance, it is just as much about history, cultural evolution, politics, and entrepreneurship. I have read several dance memoirs, and none have captured so many memorable highlights: the creation of the Berlin Wall, post- war London, the rise of modern India, and the Black September of Munich Olympics. There is an intriguing interweaving of cultural mindset with artistic expression that makes art feel palpable, and necessary. As Ms. Maze herself admits, although a natural American citizen, she deeply relates to a European life philosophy that relishes cultural expression.
A stand out is the book’s beginning, which sets the tone for a woman who would become marked by vitality, courage, and constant perseverance. Diagnosed with scarlet fever at seven years old, Ms. Maze received an early brush with death that would plant the seed for a lifetime of tenacity. Although she survived, her ballet lessons ceased, as her parents wanted to protect her health. It would not be until she was 20, while pursuing her degree in psychology from Barnard college, and married, that she would resume. Determined to follow her passion despite her late age, she studied rigorously.
When her husband was transferred to London, she had progressed to pointe work, started auditioning, and performed as a character dancer as well as decorative dance roles in televised opera. Not bad for a late starter! Soon after her husband was transferred to New Delhi India, where she launched her first production, and brought ballet to India via a tour featuring ballerina Maria Svetlova, of the Metropolitan Ballet- a tour that would be the beginning of a 40 year journey of producing dance, theater, and music, around the globe.
From there on, the historical timeline of her career evolves into a fascinating journey of the peaks and valleys of entrepenuriship, where one learns through trial and error, and throughout it all gradually but surely reaches the pinnacle of success. She was the first to bring West Side Story to Germany (before the Berlin Wall), which later won her an invitation to produce The International Folklore Festival: an extravaganza of folkdance performances for the 1972 Munich Olympics; a project which was five years in the making and marked the peak of her success, despite Black September. With hundreds of dancers, and several companies from around the world, this international celebration of dance helped bring the world together in a time of crisis and severe political tension.
Her list of productions is beyond impressive, from avant grade experimental theatre to Country Western music, (ironically her most prolific endeavor, despite her Eurocentric taste ). The creative territory she explored was bold and vast. All the while she was constantly traveling, while married with two daughters.
Eva Maze’s talents remind me of the feathers of a peacock, lush, colorful, and exotic, from character dancer, classical Indian dance connoisseur, translator (she speaks 8 languages), and entrepreneur, she is the epitome of the modern woman’s dreams; a woman who can have it all, marriage, children, a rich creative life, and professional prestige. Being behind the scenes and working primarily from Europe, she may not be as well known as likeminded female icons such as Julia Childs, Estee Lauder, or Coco Chanel, but she is every bit as relevant, and inspiring.
Her life is like a live encyclopedia of ballet that rivals Apollo’s Angels (by Jennifer ballet historian Jennifer Homans), so if you’re a balletomane, expect your cravings to be fully satisfied. From Ballet Russe to Baryshnikov, you will find a plethora of notable names in the classical ballet world. Eva’s journey with modern dance is equally impressive, as she was a first-hand witness to the infamous 80 curtain calls for Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre’s debut in Germany -‘the audience just didn’t want to leave’.
With Ballet in my Soul is a living microcosm of the evolution of history, culture, and politics all rolled into one. This memoir is a great teacher for mastery, especially for aspiring woman entrepreneurs who dare to have it all. Ambition is the word that strikes me most when reading about Eva. In America, today, Tori Burch comes to mind as a notable fellow trailblazer, as she has created an empire and foundation to mentor aspiring female entrepreneurs who will become the Eva Maze’s of the future. In today’s time of global unrest, artistic expression and cultural identity are the breath of humanity, and we will need others to follow in Eva’s footsteps. As Ms. Maze, having lived through 40 plus years of ascension , has a wealth of experience and wisdom to share about what ambition is- to have a vision, and see it through the very end.