27 August 1908
Sulamith Messerer was born
Sulamith was the daughter of a dentist Mendel Messerer, a gifted individual, who knew eight languages. He brought his entire family to Moscow out of the Pale of Settlement that was located in Vilno. Sulamith entered a choreography school following her older brother Asaf, with whom she later performed at the Bolshoi Theatre. In the 1930s, they completed a successful tour across Europe, during which they met Mathilde Kschessinska in Paris and watched the burning of the Reichstag in Berlin. The brother and sister returned home, having refused offers to stay abroad. Sulamith became prima ballerina at the Bolshoi Theatre. She danced from the age of eighteen until the age of forty-two. Her best parts included Jeanne in "Flame of Paris", Suok in "The Three Fat Men", dancer in "The Limpid Stream", and Kitri in "Don Quixote". After finishing her career as a ballerina, Messerer remained working at the Bolshoi Theatre as an instructor, and, starting in 1960, as a ballet-master as well. And not only in the USSR, but in other countries as well, for instance, in Japan and Brazil. In 1980, she moved to England, taught at the Covent Garden. At the end of her life Sulamith Messerer was awarded the Order of the British Empire for her contribution to the art of dance and was given the title of Dame by Queen Elizabeth.
During the Stalinist repression years, Messerer adopted her niece, the 13-year-old Maya Plisetskaya, after her father was executed and her mother was sent to a labor camp. Officials visited Sulamith several times with the order to "turn Plisetskaya Maya over to an orphanage", to which they invariably received the same response: "Only over my dead body."