Sarasota, FL – Tribute To An Amazing Mother
Eva Maze, a pioneering female impresario who for decades introduced European audiences to groundbreaking American theater, dance, and music, died August 20 of complications from dysphagia and falls. She was 99.
Eva was born in Bucharest, Romania, in 1922, to Lisa and David Feldstein. Eva’s father had escaped to Romania from Kyiv, Ukraine, during one of Stalin’s Great Famines by swimming the Dniester River past Russian soldiers posted along the banks. In 1938, the family left for New York, six months before the Nazis invaded Romania.
Eva’s role model for her career was the storied American impresario Sol Hurok. In the 1950s, when she began touring performing artists, there were few if any women to look up to. Under “Eva Maze Presents”, she established her own company, International Artists Productions, in 1954, living and traveling all over the world. She worked primarily in Germany.
“I never felt it was an obstacle to working as a woman in a male-dominated profession in Europe. It was actually an asset,” she told Dance Mogul magazine in 2017.
A sophisticated woman with natural charm, business savvy, and grit, Eva Maze had a remarkable facility for languages. Well into her nineties, she spoke English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Romanian, and Russian, with varying degrees of fluency. Known to be both gracious and tenacious, Eva was, according to a close friend, “a woman with a presence who just did it, and persevered – long before Women’s Lib came along”.
Among the shows Eva premiered in Europe – to enthusiastic reviews – were The Living Theater, “West Side Story”, and “Black Nativity.” She was the first to introduce gospel music to German audiences in the 1960s.
Her personal favorite was the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, which she presented in Germany and other European countries for several seasons. Decades later, she still recalled with pride a performance in Hamburg where the dancers received 80 curtain calls.
As a member of the organizing committee of the 1972 Summer Olympic Games in Munich, Eva produced the International Folklore Festival, which featured twelve folkdance companies from around the world. When tragedy struck the Games, she ordered each performance to begin with a moment of silence honoring the Israeli athletes murdered by Palestinian terrorists.
From Japanese Kabuki Theatre, to Indian Kathakali Dance, to Spanish Flamenco, Eva was relentless in her vision of introducing the performing arts across cultures. With Kabuki – where performances are delivered in Japanese – she hired an actor in Germany to narrate the proceedings in German.
In 1947, Eva graduated with a degree in psychology from Barnard College in New York. While studying, she was also taking ballet classes with a well-known Russian instructor of the time, Ludmilla Schollar, who had once danced with Nijinsky and the Kirov Ballet.
Eva’s dream was to become a ballerina, but a childhood injury had curtailed her early training. After realizing that age would be an obstacle, she was encouraged by Schollar to create a ballet tour with three dancers, including Marina Svetlova of the Metropolitan Opera Ballet. In 1942, she had married Oscar Maze, and in 1948, moved with him to London, on the first of his many assignments with Pan American Airlines overseas. When he was re-assigned to New Delhi, India, in 1951 – with the help of the Indian government and the Oberoi family – she became only the second producer ever to create a Western ballet tour in India.
For the next 50 years, her husband’s assignments in New Delhi, Frankfurt, Tokyo, Hong Kong, and Berlin – combined with the goals of her own production company – allowed her to further expand her role of impresario.
In 1972, she launched a second successful theatrical touring company, Theater auf Tournee (Theatre on Tour) in Berlin, producing classic plays by such greats as Shakespeare, Wilde, Chekhov, Hellman, Giraudoux, Ibsen, and Sophocles in German, and touring them in cities and towns throughout West Germany. The Diary of Anne Frank became one of her most successful tours.
Eva and Oscar chose Corfu, Greece, as their idyllic vacation home for more than 25 years.
Following her husband’s death in 1992 in Frankfurt, Eva moved to Paris, where, for 18 years, she immersed herself in French culture and began a swimming routine at a local club, which she maintained to the age of 94.
As Eva grew older, she started summering in Sarasota, Florida. After six years of commuting between Paris and Sarasota, she became a permanent resident of the Florida city in 2011.
It was there she wrote her memoir, “With Ballet in My Soul: Adventures of a Globetrotting Impresario,” replete with documentation of the more than 100 theatrical productions and individual artists she presented over her five-decade long career.
Along with Stephanie Jocelyn Maze, who cared for her mother in her declining years, Eva is survived by another daughter, Lauri Maze-Davis, her son-in-law Warren Lee Davis, Sr., and two grandsons, Antony Evan Maze and Donte William Davis.
A private service is planned for Fall 2022. The family is asking that donations be made to Ukrainian relief.