Marius Liepa was a colossal Russian ballet star who originated the role of Crassus, the roman general, in the Bolshoi Ballet’s production of Spartacus in 1968, yet he remains relatively unknown to the general public.  He eventually died of a heart attack due to depression caused by artistic frustration, and he leaves his son, Andris Liepa, his legacy for us to remember him by.  Liepa gave all of himself only to have nothing left, till the artistic director and the administrators disregarded him. 

 Who has the right to make these grave decisions?  How many times has a principal dancer who had a legendary career become an idle artistic director, furthermore a disappointing choreographer?  Was it because he simply lacked the talent to create new works?  Or while dancing, he gave selflessly his utmost to make another choreographer in charge world-famous? 

 What an artist offers to society is very precious, just like time.  Artistic expression holds its own life; it revives and reshapes the universe, expands the old laws, interprets them in a more liberal sense, and is priceless.  How then, can it be controlled or managed?  

 Although time is the universal currency and it is all that we have, we do not have the complete power to command the events that occur during our life span.  Therefore we recognize a legal tender that can be spent at our will and whether it is fair or not, the values for qualities over the world are determined rather than earned.

 Unfortunately, for the arts to survive in this society, they have to be “administrated” and treated like any other business.  Often credentials, artistic worth and identity become less appreciated by the administrators, while image takes on more importance.  With enough great advertisement a temporary success can be achieved.  A good entrepreneur would then sell it to the highest bidder and move on to the next enterprise.  If the company is run by a group of non-artists with a mission to be true to the originator, it may or may not succeed.  As long as people make a certain amount of money during the process, workers and officials will be content.  However tradition, virtues, and time may end up being wasted in return for cash.

 While each dancer or choreographer is unique, I create my choreography by dancing it first.  I know that it cannot look exactly the same when someone else performs it, as humans are not robots and all dancers move in their own way.  Dance should be an effort to imitate the composition of nature, rather than somebody else’s inspiration.  I put my heart and soul into my work, and forget my intellect in the process; for me this is the most heavenly congress.

 I grew up listening to heroic stories about how artists danced their hearts out, overcame injuries, and accomplished the unattainable on the stage.  I loved ballet because it was impossibly hard; it was losing and finding myself spontaneously.  Now that I am older, I realize I was able to be exposed to it because it was subsidized at least partly. 

 Opportunities are offered daily in this beautiful country of ours, yet it is painful to witness how people ignore the fact that arts can create as many secure jobs as any other industry can; that it is as good of a soul food as any other.

 My passion will endure, my work will continue.  I am alone yet hopeful because I know I am not the only one.


Maris Liepa as Crassus.