Some residents of the Pines go unnoticed, and they like it that way. Maia Helles was one. Her home is one of the original homes built in the 1950’s, and remains so. She quietly passed in 2016, but left the film in this post by Julia Warr that exemplifies her life and philosophy…
Lover of beauty, Dancer, Teacher,Mother, Friend.
One of the first homeowners in Fire Island Pines, Maia’s life was an epic stretching from her early childhood in British Palestine, through ballet school in Paris, dance with Col. Basile’s Ballet Russe and at the Radio City Music Hall, study at Edwin Piscator’s drama school in New York (with her good friend Elaine Stritch,, and fellow students Marlon Brando,Tony Curtis, and Bea Arthur.) For many reasons she taught movement classes based on a system developed by her mother; her students spanned generations. Maia adored art music and dance- for years, she was a faithful standing room attendee at The Metropolitan Opera, as well as a fan of Edith Piaf, Ella Fitzgerald,and many young artists. She found and kept many friends she met on the street and subway. Maia embraced her long life with joy, curiosity, and love.
Courtesy of Frederick Hecker.
(Below Maia with her mom)
(1968 article in NY Times)
Former Russian ballet dancer well in her 90’s, Maia Helles was resolutely independent, healthy and as fit as a forty year old, even fitter than certain… In the 1950’s, along with her mother, she perfected a routine that the two thought would bring them the required flexibility, agility and grace to go through life’s random events.
In 2011 Julia Warr, artist and film maker, shot, in Fire Island, New York, this film of 4 minutes and 23 seconds showing Maia in her summer house through a sunny day routine. Watching Maia so at ease in her house at such a great age and still performing her routine brings to the viewer the inevitable concept of Youth Fountain.