Maya was born on the 20th of November 1925. Both of her parents were in difficult situations; her father was killed in Stalin's Great Purges, and her mother was arrested and put in a concentration camp. Maya was adopted by her aunt, who used to be a principal dancer of the Bolshoi Theatre. Maya studied ballet at The Bolshoi Ballet Academy from age nine. She studied ballet with her teacher, Elizaveta Gerdt and her aunt, Sulamith. She graduated in 1943 and was invited to join the Bolshoi Ballet company. She was quickly promoted to soloist and in 1959 she began to tour the world, first with the theatre and then on her own. She was used as a pawn by the Soviet Union during the Cold War against the USA as one of the USSR's greatest jewels and achievements. The prime minister of the Soviet Union, Nikita Khrushchev, considered her the world's best ballerina - something that the USA did not have. Maya interpreted countless roles in her own way, always discovering new characters. She developed a unique sense of individuality and style not common or known at that time. Many choreographically pieces were created specially for her. One of her most famous roles was Carmen, in which she shocked all audiences with her audacity and contemporary sense of movement. She became famous all over the world and became the shining star of Russian ballet. In 1991, she published her autobiography. She died in Munich, Germany on May 2nd, 2015 from a heart attack. The whole country of Russia was devastated, and President Putin gave his condolences. Her legacy lives on and Maya's contributions to dance and the world of ballet will never be forgotten. She is widely considered the greatest ballerina of all time, and a pioneer in the world of dance and movement.
Maya received almost 30 awards for her contributions to dance, including the most important awards in Russia and in the Soviet Union (People's Artist of the USSR, Honorary Artist of the USSR, etc.) as well as many awards outside of her homeland.