The Maris Liepa Charitable Foundation to Promote the Development of Ballet was set up in 1996, the year of the 60th anniversary of the birth of the legendary Russian dancer, choreographer and teacher Maris Liepa (1936-1989).
The aim of the Foundation is to develop and perpetuate traditions in the field of ballet and in culture as a whole.
Maris Liepa was an outstanding teacher who trained a great many dancers. One of the Foundation’s goals is to support young ballet dancers and ballet school pupils, give them the opportunity of performing in public and involve them in serious work in new productions. Some winners of Foundation scholarships have already completed their training at ballet school and joined the Bolshoi Theatre and the Latvian National Opera. For Maris Liepa scholarship-winner Yekaterina Borchenko, soloist with the Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Musical Theatre, the Foundation organized a first starring role in Giselle with the Chelyabinsk Theatre of Opera and Ballet, and presented her at the Vaganova Competition, where she was a prize-winner.
One of the main aims of the Foundation is to make known to the public lost or forgotten ballet masterpieces.
Maris Liepa spent many years researching and collecting materials on the legendary Saisons Russes in Paris, and he became enthused by the idea of reviving some of the masterpieces of Russian ballet which, presented at the beginning of the Twentieth Century, were to have such a huge global cultural influence. In 1966 he was the first to organize a Russian revival of the Leonid Fokine ballet Le Spectre de la Rose, which had never been performed in the country. Liepa himself danced at the premiere during a Bolshoi Ballet tour to Cuba, and then again at the Bolshoi Theatre itself.
Andris Liepa has inherited his father’s love of reconstructing old ballets. In 1989, while working with the American Ballet Theatre (of which Mikhail Baryshnikov was artistic director at the time), he made the acquaintance of Fokine’s grand-daughter Isabelle Fokine. In 1992, having begun work on the reconstruction of three of Fokine’s ballet masterpieces – Petrushka, The Firebird, and Scheherazade – he invited Isabelle to Moscow. The project was named The Return of the Firebird, for it had been Fokine’s dream to return at some point to Russia, even if only through his ballets. In 1993, the Kirov Theatre returned to its original name – the Mariinsky –and The Firebird made its symbolic return to Fokine’s beloved home theatre.
The Foundation is headed by Maris Liepa’s children, who carry on the traditions of the Liepa ballet dynasty: Ilze Liepa and Andris Liepa, both holders of the title of ‘People’s Artist of Russia’. Yelena Ulyanova is the Executive Director. Volunteers are engaged for each individual project.
At the present time, the Maris Liepa Foundation enjoys the reputation of being one of the most enterprising international cultural and arts production centers. Its activities, which are given wide coverage by the mass media, cover Moscow, St. Petersburg and other Russian cities, as well as extending abroad.