Start of the creative development
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Maris Liepa was born in Riga, Latvia, on 27 July 1936. His father, Edward Liepa used to be a stage engineer at the Latvian National Opera. Maris was a pretty ailing child so, on advice of his father’s friend, director of the theatre ballet troupe, the boy was taken to the Latvian Opera Ballet School with the purpose of improving his physical conditions.
Liepa attended the class of V. Blinov, former character dancer, so many thought he would also become one of the kind. In April 1950, Maris made his Moscow debut at the all-union conference of choreographic schools performing in three of four turns presented by Latvian delegation.
Studying ballet, Maris didn’t also forget about sports. He was Latvia’s repeated champion in swimming and at one of the competitions Moscow ballet teachers Ye. Sergievskaya and N. Tarasov have noticed the talented boy and pressed his admission in the Moscow Choreographic School. In 1953 Liepa moved to Moscow and continued his studies under the guidance of Nikolay Tarasov coached by N. Legat.
Moscow experts also thought Liepa to become a character dancer, however in a year’s time he prepared the part of a Nutcracker Prince, and graduated with Pas de deux from “Don Quixote” and Act 3 from “Le Bayadere”. These works have determined his fate, and on graduation Liepa became pure classical dancer.
Having graduated in 1955 Liepa had all possible chances to stay in Moscow, however, the Ministry of Culture insisted that he returned to Riga. Over the first year of his work at the Latvian Opera, Maris performed a number of solos including Pas d’esclave from “Le Corsaire” and Grand Pas from “Raimonda”. To celebrate the decade of Latvian art, in December 1955 Liepa has specially prepared the parts of Nikita the Warrior in “Laima” choreographed by Ye. Tangieva-Berzniek and Violinist Tots in “The Song of Freedom” choreographed by A. Skulte. His appearance as Tots was highly appreciated by M. Plisetskaya and on his return to Riga, M. Liepa has unexpectedly got a proposal to take part in her tour of Budapest performing Zigfrid in the “Swan Lake” (choreography by Gorsky-Messerer). His Budapest debut as Zigfrid in March 1956 was rather successful just like his other appearance as Watslav in “The Fountain of Bakhchisrai” choreographed by R. Zakharov.
On return to Riga, Liepa performed the part of Zigfrid in the canonical production of the “Swan Lake” offered by Ivanov-Petipa. That was his last part with the company before he accepted an invitation to join the second famous Moscow Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Theatre. We stayed with the theatre for four seasons having started his carrier with Zigfrid in new production of the “Swan Lake” offered by V. Burmeister.
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