Mikhail Baryshnikov

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Mikhail Baryshnikov
Mikhail Baryshnikov
Mikhail Baryshnikov, 2017
Birthday/Birthplace Mikhail Nikolayevich Baryshnikov
(1948-01-27) January 27, 1948
Riga, Latvia
Profession(s) Dancer, actor
Active Years 1968–present
Height 165 cm (5 ft 5 in)
Wife/Husband Lisa Rinehart (m. 2006)
Partner(s) Jessica Lange (1976–82)
Kid(s) 4 (including Shura and Anna)

Mikhail Nikolayevich Baryshnikov (Russian, Михаил Николаевич Барышников, Riga, Latvia January 27, 1948), nicknamed Misha (Russian diminutive of Mikhail), is a Russian dancer, choreographer and actor. He is recognized as the best ballet dancer in the world. The critic Clive Barnes once called him “the most perfect dancer I have ever seen”.

Mikhail_Baryshnikov’s Biography


Barýshnikov (whose name is sometimes transliterated in both Spanish and various languages ​​such as Baryshnikov, Baristikov or Barishnikov and its variants) was born in Riga, in the Soviet Socialist Republic of Latvia (Soviet Union), of Russian parents. His father was an army officer and his mother a seamstress. When Mikhail was twelve, his mother committed suicide, so he was left in the care of his father and grandmother. The artist remembers his childhood as relatively happy: he went to local public schools and was an active child in swimming and soccer. Thinking then that the ballet was very difficult to understand, he did not pay any special attention. His mother, however, was a great fan. At the age of eleven he submitted his application to enter the Ballet School of the Opera Theater in Riga, where he was accepted a year later, in 1960, and where he would continue his academic studies. During this time, Barýshnikov learned to speak French and aspired to be a concert pianist. Over time, he fell more in love with ballet than with the piano and as a result of his own interest and success in school festivals, he decided to pursue a career as a dancer.

Race in the Soviet Union

In 1963, during a visit to Leningrad, he applied to the famous Vagánova Ballet Academy. He was immediately admitted and joined the class of the famous ballet master Aleksandr Pushkin, who had previously taught Rudolf Nureyev. Barýshnikov later commented that Pushkin was “like a father” to him. Upon completing his studies in 1966, he joined the Kirov Ballet in Leningrad. Despite the tradition, he did not start as an apprentice in the dance corps, but instead made his professional debut as a soloist in Giselle. That same year he won the gold medal in the international ballet competition of Varna, Bulgaria. Upon his return from Leningrad, he continued with the same success. After only two years as a professional, he was offered his first lead role in Goryanka by Oleg Vinográdov, a role choreographed specifically for Barýshnikov. That same year, he received the gold medal in the first Moscow ballet competition, in addition to the Nizhinski award. He became the youngest dancer to receive the State Prize for Merit of the USSR. During her stay in Russia, she was a couple of Irina Kolpakova, whom many considered the greatest living classical dancer, in ballets like The Sleeping Beauty, The Nutcracker, Giselle, Coppélia, The Flame of Paris, and Don Quixote, and choreographed Vestris ( 1969), in which he represented Auguste Vestris, and Creation of the World (1971), a new satirical and religious opera in which Barýshnikov played Adam alongside Kolpakova as Eva. However, his desire to work with more Western choreographers, along with his concerns about what he considered the decline of the Kirov Ballet, led to growing unrest.

Desertion and career in North America

After meeting the French choreographer Roland Petit in Leningrad, he invited him to participate in a tour of Canada. In 1974, during this tour, the dancer asked for political asylum in Toronto. He later claimed that Christina Berlin, an Anglo-American friend of his, had helped him engineer his defection during the London tour of 1970. His first performance after leaving temporary isolation in Canada was with the National Ballet of Canada in a televised version of The sylph Later he would move to the United States.

From 1974 to 1979 he was a principal dancer with the American Ballet Theater, where he was a couple of Gelsey Kirkland. He also worked with George Balanchine’s New York City Ballet and toured with ballet and modern dance companies around the world for 15 months. Several roles were created for him, including Opus (1971) and The Dreamer (1979), Balanchine and Jerome Robbins, Rhapsody (1980), Balanchine and Frederick Ashton, and Other Dances (with Natalia Makárova) by Jerome Robbins. He returned to ABT in 1980 as a dancer and artistic director, a position he held for a decade. On July 3, 1986, he became a naturalized citizen of the United States.

The decade of the 90s brought great changes for the dancer, who not only continued his activity in film productions (Company Business, with Gene Hackman, 1991), but also launched his own lines of Barýshnikov perfume and dance clothes.

The most important change in her professional life was registered after the decision to leave the ballet, which changed to modern dance when she founded the White Oak Dance Project, a touring company that she founded together with Mark Morris and of which she was director artistic from 1990 to 2002.

In December 2000, Misha (diminutive of Mikhail) won the John F. Kennedy Center Award, which he shared with Spanish tenor Plácido Domingo and actress Angela Lansbury.

In 2004 he opened his Arts Center in New York.

Recently, he has received two honorary doctorates: September 28, 2007 from the Shenandoah Conservatory of the University of Shenandoah, and May 11, 2006, from the University of New York.

In August 2007, Barýshnikov danced with Ana Laguna the choreography of Mats Ek: Lugar (Swedish original title: Ställe) in the Dansens Hus, Stockholm.

More Facts about Mikhail Baryshnikov

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