Mikhail Nikolayevich Baryshnikov (Russian: Михаи́л Никола́евич Бары́шников, IPA: [mʲɪxɐˈil bɐrɨʂˈnʲɪkəf]; Latvian: Mihails Barišņikovs; born January 27, 1948), nicknamed "Misha" (Russian diminutive of the name "Mikhail"), is a Soviet-born Russian and American dancer, choreographer, and actor. He is often cited alongside Vaslav Nijinsky, Rudolf Nureyev and Vladimir Vasiliev as one of the greatest male ballet dancers in history.
Mikhail Baryshnikov, 2017
Mikhail Nikolayevich Baryshnikov
January 27, 1948
|Height||1.65 m (5 ft 5 in)|
Lisa Rinehart (m. 2006)
|Partner(s)||Jessica Lange (1976–82)|
|Children||4 (including Shura and Anna)|
Born in Riga, Latvian SSR, Baryshnikov had a promising start in the Kirov Ballet in Leningrad before defecting to Canada in 1974 for more opportunities in western dance. After freelancing with many companies, he joined the New York City Ballet as a principal dancer to learn George Balanchine's style of movement. He then danced with the American Ballet Theatre, where he later became artistic director. Baryshnikov has spearheaded many of his own artistic projects and has been associated in particular with promoting modern dance, premiering dozens of new works, including many of his own. His success as a dramatic actor on stage, cinema and television has helped him become probably the most widely recognized contemporary ballet dancer. Since his defection from the Soviet Union in 1974, Baryshnikov has never returned to Russia.
In 1977, he received a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor and a Golden Globe nomination for his work as "Yuri Kopeikine" in the film The Turning Point. He also had a significant role in the last season of the television series Sex and the City and starred in the movie White Nights with Gregory Hines, Helen Mirren, and Isabella Rossellini.
Mikhail Baryshnikov was born in Riga, then Latvian SSR, Soviet Union, now Latvia. His parents were Russians: Alexandra (a dressmaker; née Kiselyova) and Nikolay Baryshnikov (an engineer). According to Baryshnikov, his father was a strict, nationalist military man and his mother was the one who introduced him to the theater, opera and ballet. She committed suicide when he was 12.
1960–1974: Early yearsEdit
He began his ballet studies in Riga in 1960, at the age of 11. In 1964, he entered the Vaganova School, in what was then in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg). Baryshnikov soon won the top prize in the junior division of the Varna International Ballet Competition. He joined the Mariinsky Ballet, which was then called the Kirov Ballet, in 1967, dancing the "Peasant" pas de deux in Giselle. Recognizing Baryshnikov's talent, in particular the strength of his stage presence and purity of his classical technique, several Soviet choreographers, including Oleg Vinogradov, Konstantin Sergeyev, Igor Tchernichov, and Leonid Jakobson, choreographed ballets for him. Baryshnikov made signature roles of Jakobson's 1969 virtuosic Vestris along with an intensely emotional Albrecht in Giselle. While still in the Soviet Union, he was called by New York Times critic Clive Barnes "the most perfect dancer I have ever seen."
1974: Defection to CanadaEdit
Baryshnikov's talent was obvious from his youth, but being 5 ft 5in (165 cm) tall, maybe 5 ft 6in (168 cm), thus, shorter than most dancers, he could not tower over a ballerina en pointe and was therefore relegated to secondary parts. More frustrating to him, the Soviet dance world hewed closely to 19th-century traditions and deliberately shunned the creative choreographers of the West, whose work Baryshnikov glimpsed in occasional tours and films. Baryshnikov's main goal in leaving the Soviet Union was to work with these innovators.
On June 29, 1974, while on tour in Canada with the Mariinsky Ballet, Baryshnikov defected, requesting political asylum in Toronto, and joined the Royal Winnipeg Ballet. He also announced to the dance world that he would not go back to the USSR. He later stated that Christina Berlin, an American friend, helped engineer his defection during his 1970 tour of London. His first televised performance after coming out of temporary seclusion in Canada was with the National Ballet of Canada in La Sylphide. He then went on to the United States. In December 1975, he and his dance partner Natalia Makarova featured prominently in an episode of the BBC television series Arena.
In the first two years after his defection, he danced for no fewer than 13 different choreographers, including Jerome Robbins, Glen Tetley, Alvin Ailey, and Twyla Tharp. "It doesn't matter if every ballet is a success or not," he told New York Times dance critic Anna Kisselgoff in 1976, "The new experience gives me a lot." He cited his fascination with the ways Ailey mixed classical and modern technique and his initial discomfort when Tharp insisted he incorporate eccentric personal gestures in the dance.
1974–1978: Principal dancer with the American Ballet TheatreEdit
1978–1979: Principal dancer with the New York City BalletEdit
In 1978, he abandoned his freelance career to spend 18 months as a principal of the New York City Ballet, run by the legendary George Balanchine. "Mr. B," as Balanchine was known, rarely welcomed guest artists and had refused to work with both Nureyev and Makarova. Baryshnikov's decision to devote his full attentions to the New York company stunned the dance world. Balanchine never created a new work for Baryshnikov, though he did coach the young dancer in his distinctive style, and Baryshnikov triumphed in such signature roles as Apollo, The Prodigal Son, and Rubies. Jerome Robbins did, however, create Opus 19/The Dreamer for Baryshnikov and NYCB favorite Patricia McBride.
Baryshnikov performed with the New York City Ballet as a principal dancer for 15 months from 1978 to 1979. On July 8, 1978, he made his debut with George Balanchine's and Lincoln Kirstein's company at Saratoga Springs, appearing as Franz in Coppélia.
On October 12, 1979, he danced the role of the Poet in Balanchine's ballet, "La Sonnambula" with the City Ballet at the Kennedy Center in Washington. This was Baryshnikov's last performance with New York City Ballet due to a tendinitis and other injuries. His tenure there coincided with a period of ill health for Mr. Balanchine that followed an earlier heart attack and culminated in successful heart surgery in June 1979. Baryshnikov left the company to become the artistic director of American Ballet Theater in September 1980, and take time off for his injuries.
1980–2002: Artistic director with the American Ballet Theatre and White Oak Dance ProjectEdit
Baryshnikov returned to the American Ballet Theatre in September 1980 as an artistic director, a position he held until 1989. He also performed as a dancer with ABT. Baryshnikov's fascination with the new has stood him in good stead. As he observed, "It doesn't matter how high you lift your leg. The technique is about transparency, simplicity and making an earnest attempt." Baryshnikov also toured with ballet and modern dance companies around the world for fifteen months. Several roles were created for him, including roles in Opus 19: The Dreamer (1979), by Jerome Robbins, Rhapsody (1980), by Frederick Ashton, and Other Dances with Natalia Makarova by Jerome Robbins.
|Baryshnikov dancing Pergolesi as choreographed for him by Twyla Tharp while touring with the White Oak Dance Project in 1995|
From 1990 to 2002, Baryshnikov was artistic director of the White Oak Dance Project, a touring company he co-founded with Mark Morris. The White Oak Project was formed to create original work for older dancers. In a run ending just short of his 60th birthday in 2007, he appeared in a production of four short plays by Samuel Beckett staged by avant-garde director JoAnne Akalaitis.
2002–present: Baryshnikov Arts Center and awardsEdit
In 2003, he won the Prix Benois de la Danse for lifetime achievement.
In 2005 he launched the Baryshnikov Arts Center in New York. For the duration of the 2006 Summer, Baryshnikov went on tour with Hell's Kitchen Dance, which was sponsored by the Baryshnikov Arts Center. Featuring works by Baryshnikov Arts Center residents Azsure Barton and Benjamin Millepied, the company toured the United States and Brazil. He has received three Honorary Degrees: on May 11, 2006, from New York University; on September 28, 2007, from Shenandoah Conservatory of Shenandoah University; and on May 23, 2008, from Montclair State University. In late August 2007, Baryshnikov performed Mats Ek's Place (original Swedish title, Ställe) with Ana Laguna at Dansens Hus in Stockholm. In 2012, Baryshnikov received the Vilcek Prize in Dance.
Baryshnikov has performed in Israel three times: in 1996, when he appeared with the White Oak Dance Project at the Roman amphitheater in Caesarea; in 2010, when he performed with Ana Laguna; and in 2011, when he starred in nine performances of "In Paris" at the Suzanne Dellal Center in Tel Aviv. In an interview to Haaretz newspaper in 2011, he expressed his opposition to artistic boycotts of Israel and described the enthusiasm of Israeli contemporary dance as astounding.
Film, television and theaterEdit
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During the Christmas season of 1977, CBS brought his highly acclaimed American Ballet Theatre production of Tchaikovsky's classic ballet The Nutcracker to television, with Baryshnikov starring in the title role, accompanied by American Ballet Theatre performers including Gelsey Kirkland and Alexander Minz.
Baryshnikov also performed in two Emmy-winning television specials, one on ABC and one on CBS, in which he danced to music from Broadway and Hollywood, respectively. During the 1970s and 1980s, he appeared many times with American Ballet Theatre on Live from Lincoln Center and Great Performances. Over the years, he has also appeared on several telecasts of the Kennedy Center Honors.
Baryshnikov performed in his first film role soon after arriving in New York. He portrayed the character Yuri Kopeikine, a famous Russian womanizing ballet dancer, in the 1977 film The Turning Point, for which he received an Oscar nomination. He co-starred with Gregory Hines and Isabella Rossellini in the 1985 film White Nights, choreographed by Twyla Tharp; and he was featured in the 1987 film Dancers. On television, in the last season of Sex and the City, he played a Russian artist, Aleksandr Petrovsky, who woos Carrie Bradshaw relentlessly and takes her to Paris. He co-starred in Company Business (1991) with Gene Hackman.
On November 2, 2006, Baryshnikov and chef Alice Waters were featured on an episode of the Sundance Channel's original series Iconoclasts. The two have a long friendship. They discussed their lifestyles, sources of inspiration, and social projects that make them unique. During the program, Alice Waters visited Baryshnikov's Arts Center in New York City. The Hell's Kitchen Dance tour brought him to Berkeley to visit Alice Waters' restaurant Chez Panisse. On July 17, 2007, the PBS News Hour with Jim Lehrer featured a profile of Baryshnikov and his Arts Center. Baryshnikov appears, uncredited, in the 2014 film Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit as Interior Minister Sorokin.
On stage as an actorEdit
Baryshnikov is a performer in avant-garde theater. His breakthrough performance in Broadway was back in 1989 when he played Gregor Samsa in Metamorphosis, an adaption of Franz Kafka's novel by the same name. His debut earned him a Tony nomination.
In 2004, he appeared in Forbidden Christmas or The Doctor And The Patient at New York City's Lincoln Center, and in 2007 in Beckett Shorts at New York Theatre Workshop.
On April 11–21, 2012, Baryshnikov starred in a new play directed by Dmitry Krymov, titled In Paris. The play was presented in the Santa Monica College Performing Arts Center, at the Broad Stage. His co-star was Anna Sinyakina.
He then appeared in the stage adaptation of Anton Chekhov's Man in a Case. As he said:
I grew up reading Chekhov's stories and plays. I have wanted to explore a Chekhov story for the stage for some time and I'm delighted to bring Man in a Case to Berkeley Rep. Both tales are about solitary men and their self-imposed restrictions. We know very little about the character in the first story, 'Man in a Case,' except that he teaches classical Greek and he's kind of eccentric and conservative. But then something happens to him that is unexpected. The second story, 'About Love,' provides an arresting contrast to the first work. At their core both stories are about love. And I think it's a romantic show in many respects that is perfect for Berkeley Rep's audience.— Mikhail Baryshnikov.
On April 21, 2015, The New York Times reported that Baryshnikov was scheduled to perform a reading of the Nobel Laureate poet Joseph Brodsky in Riga in 2015. The performance was called "Brodsky/Baryshnikov," was performed in the original Russian, and had its premiere on October 15, 2015. Its international tour began in Tel Aviv in January 2016 and it was later staged in New York City in March 2016, still in the original Russian. (Baryshnikov met Brodsky in 1974, soon after the poet had been forced by the Soviet authorities to leave his home country and had moved to the United States. They remained friends until Brodsky's death in 1996.)
Baryshnikov has a daughter, Aleksandra 'Shura' Baryshnikova (born 1981), from his relationship with actress Jessica Lange. When Baryshnikov and Lange met, he spoke very little English; they communicated in French instead. He eventually learned English by watching television.
Baryshnikov has had a long-term relationship with former ballerina Lisa Rinehart. They had three children together: Peter (born July 7, 1989), Anna (born May 22, 1992), and Sofia (born May 24, 1994). Though he told Larry King in 2002 that he did not "believe in marriage in the conventional way", he and Rinehart married in 2006.
On July 3, 1986, Baryshnikov became a naturalized citizen of the United States. Asked if he feels like an American, he said, "I like to think like I'm a man of the world. I feel totally Parisian in Paris. Totally Parisian. I have my place here, a lot of close friends and collaborators here, whom I can really feel like I can talk serious business with them. Human business, not 'business' business. Paris was always the dream of my childhood. We grew up on French art, like all Russians. America, United States, North America - it's a new country. Of course, if somebody would ask me to choose 'either Paris or New York,' I would choose New York. But spiritually, somehow, I love Europe."
On April 27, 2017, Baryshnikov was granted citizenship by the Republic of Latvia for extraordinary merits. The application to the Latvian parliament along with a letter from Baryshnikov in which he expressed his wish to become a citizen of what today constitutes his native country was submitted on December 21, 2016. He stated that the decision was based on memories of his first 16 years living in Latvia, which provided the basis for the rest of his life. "It was there that my exposure to the arts led me to discover my future destiny as a performer. Riga still serves as a place where I find artistic inspiration," Baryshnikov wrote in the letter to the Latvian parliament.
- 1966 Varna International Ballet Competition (gold medal, junior division)
- 1969 Moscow International Ballet Competition (gold medal)
- 1969 Nijinsky Prize, Paris Academy of Dance, for performance in Vestris.
- 1977 Academy Award nomination for best supporting actor, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for The Turning Point.
- 1977 Golden Globe nomination for best supporting actor, Academy of Foreign Film Press for The Turning Point.
- 1978 Award from Dance magazine.
- 1979 D.F.A. from Yale University.
- 2000 Kennedy Center Honor.
- 2004 Jerome Robbins Prize.
- 2005 National Arts Award.
- 2006 George and Judy Marcus Prize for Lifetime Achievement.
- 2006 Honorary degree from New York University.
- 2007 Honorary degree from Shenandoah University Conservatory.
- 2008 Honorary degree from Montclair State University.
- 2019 Honorary degree from University of Southern California.
- Yuri Kopeikine, The Turning Point, Twentieth Century-Fox, 1977
- When I Think of Russia, 1980
- Narrator, That's Dancing!, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/United Artists, 1985
- Nikolai 'Kolya' Rodchenko, White Nights, Columbia, 1985
- Anton Sergeyev, Dancers (also known as Giselle), Golan-Globus/Cannon, 1987
- Pyotr Grushenko, Company Business, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/Pathe, 1991
- Cesar, The Cabinet of Dr. Ramirez, 1991
- Russian Holiday (also known as Russian Roulette, Video, 1994), 1992
- Le mystere Babilee, 2001
- "Aurora's Wedding" and "Le corsaire" segments, The Turning Point, Twentieth Century-Fox, 1977
- Additional choreography, White Nights, Columbia, 1985
- "Giselle" segments, Dancers (also known as Giselle), Golan-Globus/Cannon, 1987
- In Performance at Wolf Trap, An Evening with Mikhail Baryshnikov, PBS, 1976
- Albrecht, "Giselle," Live from Lincoln Center, PBS, 1977
- Title role, The Nutcracker, CBS, 1977
- The 32nd Annual Tony Awards, 1978
- "Theme and Variations," Live from Lincoln Center, PBS, 1978
- Don Quixote, PBS, 1978
- "American Ballet Theatre at the Metropolitan Opera House," Live from Lincoln Center, 1978
- "Choreography by Balanchine: Part IV," Dance in America, 1979
- Baryshnikov at the White House, PBS, 1979
- Bob Hope Special: Bob Hope on the Road to China, NBC, 1979
- Host, IBM Presents Baryshnikov on Broadway, ABC and PBS, 1980
- The Kennedy Center Honors, 1980, 1981, 1983
- Walt Disney ... One Man's Dream, 1981
- "An Evening with American Ballet Theatre," Live from Lincoln Center, 1981
- The American Film Institute Salute to Fred Astaire, 1981
- Host, Baryshnikov in Hollywood, CBS, 1982
- Dance in America: Baryshnikov by Tharp with American Ballet Theatre, PBS, 1984
- Basilio, Don Quixote, 1984
- The Kennedy Center Honors: A Celebration of the Performing Arts, CBS, 1985
- The American Film Institute Salute to Gene Kelly, CBS, 1985
- The 50th Presidential Inaugural Gala, ABC, 1985
- "Live from Lincoln Center," Great Performances, PBS, 1985
- Liberty Weekend, ABC, 1986
- The 58th Annual Academy Awards Presentation, ABC, 1986
- "Celebrating Gershwin," Great Performances, PBS, 1987
- "Dance in America: David Gordon's Made in U.S.A.," Great Performances, PBS, 1987
- All-Star Gala at Ford's Theater, ABC, 1987
- Poet, "La sonnambula," "Balanchine and Cunningham: An Evening at AmericanBallet Theatre," Great Performances, PBS, 1988
- The Presidential Inaugural Gala, CBS, 1989
- From the Heart ... The First International Very Special Arts Festival, NBC, 1989
- Dancer, "Who Cares?" and "Apollo," "Dance in America: Baryshnikov DancesBalanchine with American Ballet Theatre," Great Performances, PBS, 1989
- American Tribute to Vaclav Havel and a Celebration of Democracy in Czechoslovakia, PBS, 1990
- The Nicholas Brothers: We Sing and We Dance, Arts and Entertainment, 1992
- Dancer, "Zoetrope," "Great Performances' 20th Anniversary Special," Great Performances, PBS, 1992
- "Martha Graham: The Dancer Revealed," American Masters, PBS, 1994
- Interviewee, "Danny Kaye: A Legacy of Laughter," American Masters, PBS, 1996
- 53rd Presidential Inaugural Gala, CBS, 1997
- Honoree, The Kennedy Center Honors: A Celebration of the Performing Arts, CBS, 2000
- Merce Cunningham: A Lifetime of Dance (documentary), PBS, 2001
- (In archive footage) Bourne to Dance (documentary), Channel 4, 2001
Also appeared in "Prodigal Son," "The Steadfast Tin Soldier," "Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux," and "Other Dances," all Dance in America, PBS; Baryshnikov: The Dancer and the Dance, PBS; and Carmen, on French television.
- The Magic of Dance, 1982
- Host, Stories from My Childhood (also known as Mikhail Baryshnikov's Stories from My Childhood), 1997
- Producer, Stories from My Childhood (also known as Mikhail Baryshnikov's Stories from My Childhood), 1997
Television artistic director
- Dance in America: Baryshnikov by Tharp with the American Ballet Theatre, PBS, 1984
- The Nutcracker, CBS, 1977
- "Celebrating Gershwin," Great Performances, PBS, 1987
- Sterling, Mary E. (1998). The Seventies. Teacher Created Resources. p. 43. ISBN 1-57690-029-0. Archived from the original on March 3, 2016.
- Mikhail Baryshnikov Archived February 4, 2017, at the Wayback Machine Encyclopaedia Britannica
- Mikhail Baryshnikov dances his way to Tel Aviv Archived March 28, 2012, at the Wayback Machine, Haaretz
- Mikhail Baryshnikov (Russian-American dancer) – Britannica Online Encyclopedia Archived November 8, 2010, at the Wayback Machine. Britannica.com. Retrieved on September 14, 2011.
- "Biography of Mikhail Baryshnikov". John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Archived from the original on January 3, 2008. Retrieved January 29, 2008.
- Mikhail Baryshnikov: ‘Everything in Russia is a damn soap opera’ Archived October 18, 2017, at the Wayback Machine, By Sarah Crompton, The Telegraph, July 3, 2013.
- See other, less reliable sources. Baryshnikov's height seems to be glossed over.
- "Mikhail Baryshnikov defects from the Soviet Union". CBC News. June 30, 1974. Archived from the original on August 1, 2012. Retrieved June 28, 2011.
- "Mikhail Baryshnikov". IMDb. Archived from the original on September 25, 2017. Retrieved May 3, 2018.
- Makarova, Natalia (November 12, 1979). A Dance Autobiography. Alfred A. Knopf. p. 152. ISBN 0-394-50141-1.
- Mikhail Baryshnikov Archived March 4, 2016, at the Wayback Machine, website of the American Ballet Theatre.
- Koegler, Horst (October 14, 1982). The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Ballet. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-311330-9.
- Reynolds, Nancy (September 1977). Repertory in Review: 40 Years of New York City Ballet. Doubleday. ISBN 0-385-27100-X.
- Dance View, article on Mikhail Baryshnikov by Anna Kisselgoff, The New York Times, 28 October 1979.
- Baryshnikov, Mikhail (March 12, 1978). Baryshnikov at Work. Alfred A. Knopf. ISBN 0-394-73587-0.
- "Book of Members, 1780–2010: Chapter B" (PDF). American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Archived (PDF) from the original on July 25, 2011. Retrieved May 20, 2011.
- Lifetime Honors – National Medal of Arts Archived March 4, 2010, at the Wayback Machine. Nea.gov. Retrieved on September 14, 2011.
- "Russian-born king of dance honored in US". RT English. Archived from the original on November 17, 2015. Retrieved November 11, 2015.
- Patrick, K. C. (2000). "Nutcrackers, Notcrackers And Joy To The World". Dance Magazine. Archived from the original on April 29, 2009.
- "Can 'Shadow Recruit' live up to past Jack Ryan flicks?". newsday.com. Archived from the original on March 3, 2016. Retrieved May 3, 2018.
- "Mikhail Baryshnikov and Lil Buck are Mesmerizing in New Dance for Rag & Bone". elle.com. February 6, 2015. Archived from the original on April 9, 2016. Retrieved May 3, 2018.
- "Biography for Mikhail Baryshnikov". Turner Classic Movies. Archived from the original on September 29, 2017. Retrieved September 29, 2017.
- "Mishas Next Moves". American Theatre. February 23, 2016. Archived from the original on August 30, 2016. Retrieved September 24, 2016.
- "Baryshnikov To Hit Road With 'Man In A Case'". Hartford Courant. October 11, 2013. Archived from the original on October 18, 2013. Retrieved October 18, 2013.
- "Mikhail Baryshnikov to Bring MAN IN A CASE to Berkeley Rep, 1/25-2/16/2014". BroadwayWorld. October 2, 2013. Archived from the original on October 18, 2013. Retrieved October 18, 2013.
- The New York Times, "Baryshnikov to Perform in a Show Based on Brodsky's Poetry", By Roslyn Sulcas, April 21, 2015.
- "CNN Larry King Weekend: Interview with Mikhail Baryshnikov". CNN. May 5, 2002. Archived from the original on December 22, 2007.
- Sushil Cheema (October 11, 2010). "Finale for Baryshnikov House". Wall Street Journal. Archived from the original on June 28, 2017.
- Fang, M. The Huffington Post August 17, 2016.
- "Biographies of Mikhail Baryshnikov Dancers". www.biography-center.com. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved May 3, 2018.
- "Saeima grants Latvian citizenship to world famous artist Mikhail Baryshnikov". saeima.lv. Archived from the original on April 28, 2017. Retrieved April 27, 2017.
- "Ballet star Baryshnikov could be granted Latvian citizenship". LSM.lv. Archived from the original on April 27, 2017. Retrieved April 27, 2017.
- The World Famous Stars of IBC – Varna Archived February 17, 2017, at the Wayback Machine
- History Archived February 4, 2017, at the Wayback Machine, website of the Moscow International Ballet Competition
- Read more: [https://web.archive.org/web/20111028211208/http://www.filmreference.com/film/29/Mikhail-Baryshnikov.html Archived October 28, 2011, at the Wayback Machine Mikhail Baryshnikov Biography (1948–)], filmreference.com.
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