Mikhail Baryshnikov

Baryshnikov, Mikhail (mĭˈkhail bərĭˌshnĭkävˈ) [key], 1948–, Russian-American dancer and choreographer, b. Riga, Latvia (then in the USSR). He studied in Riga and performed with the Kirov Ballet (1966–74). Although highly respected and extremely popular in the Soviet Union, he defected to the West in 1974, where he danced with the American Ballet Theatre (1974–78) and the New York City Ballet (1978–79). Among the many dances in which he has performed are Swan Lake, Giselle, Twyla Tharp's Push Comes to Shove, and John Butler's Medea. He has also choreographed such works as The Nutcracker and Don Quixote.

Baryshnikov has also starred in films, notably The Turning Point (1977), which introduced him to a mass American audience, and White Nights (1985), on television, e.g., Baryshnikov on Broadway (1980) and the cable sitcom Sex and the City (2003–4), and in other productions. He was the artistic director of the American Ballet Theatre from 1980 to 1989 and since then has been involved with several modern dance projects, including his White Oak Dance Project (1990–2002), a tour with Twyla Tharp, and productions of works by Mark Morris. In 2005 he opened the Baryshnikov Arts Center in New York City, a large multipurpose space for artists in various media. With his engaging personality and versatility, Baryshnikov has brought the public to a greater appreciation of ballet, of dance in general, and of the arts as a whole.

See his Baryshnikov at Work (1976); study by G. Smakov (1980).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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