With Ballet in My Soul
With Ballet in My Soul: Adventures of a Globetrotting Impresario by Eva Maze
With Ballet in My Soul by Eva Maze has been sitting on my coffee table for about a month and I’ve been waiting for the right time to read it. It is part coffee table book (beautiful photos, thick silky pages), part history lesson (covering such significant events as WWII, the building of the Berlin wall, etc.) and part memoir (the personal story of Eva Maze.) And what a story she had to tell! I’m inspired by all that she accomplished and all that she witnessed throughout her life. I will try to summarize her story below, but believe me when I say you’ll want to read this one for yourself.
Eva Maze was born in Romania and as a child dreamt of being a ballerina until she fell ill with scarlet fever. After she recovered, her mother wouldn’t allow her to continue with ballet lessons fearing she was too fragile for the physical exertion. As a teenager, just prior to the outbreak of WWII, Eva and her family moved to the United States, where she finished high school and met and married her husband. Through her husband’s career at PanAm, they lived in London, New Delhi, Frankfurt, Corfu, and Berlin. Later she also lived in Paris and Sarasota. During much of this time Eva returned to her early love of ballet and became one of the most successful impresarios in Europe, a career that spanned 40 years.
One of my favorite parts of this book is the intermixing of Eva’s personal story with key historical events, all of which Eva witnessed and experienced first-hand. She lived in Berlin when the Berlin Wall was built and was living there again when it was torn down. She was involved with the 1972 Munich Olympic Games managing many of the theatrical performances when the massacre took place, and her husband’s career illustrated the rise and fall of Pan American Airlines. Her story reminded me a lot of Forest Gump – she happened to be in the right place at the right time to experience significant events in history, good and bad.
Eva’s story was beautifully written and accompanied with personal photos to help illustrate her story. I am absolutely in awe of what she accomplished, particularly in the age she accomplished it. One image of a newspaper article struck me with a headline that said something about a housewife – a term you don’t often see used today to describe a woman with a very successful career.
At the end of the book, Eva describes her final move from Paris to Sarasota and the process she and her daughters went through to clean out her apartment. She talks about having to prioritize artifacts from her life and travels and decide which were worth keeping. What I wouldn’t have given to be able to see her go through those pieces and tell stories of her memories (and maybe save an item or two!) One of my favorite parts of my research is talking to people about their memories and the things in life (in my case, usually clothing) that help tell their life story. I felt like this book gave me a tiny taste of that.
Anyone who has had the chance to meet Eva Maze in real life, I envy you. I imagine she has endless and fascinating stories that didn’t make the cut for this book. I am so thankful she chose to write down her story and share it with the rest of the world. If you’re looking for a story about a strong, creative woman who lived a varied, cultural, and artistic life, this book is for you.