Mikhail Baryshnikov – Silent genius
He does not strive to dance better than others, but he wants to dance better than himself. And he was named the greatest ballet artist of the last century. By the way, he is one of the Russians who influenced the fate of the world ballet.
Mikhail Baryshnikov was born on January 27, 1948 in Riga. The family moved to Latvia, where Mikhail’s father, a Soviet officer, was sent to serve.
When he was 10 years old, the boy said that he wanted to study at the ballet school.
The boy’s life wasn’t easy. He grew up in a large communal apartment and when he was 12 years old his mother committed suicide. She supported Mikhail’s decision to go to the Riga Choreography School. Few years Baryshnikov spent with his father, but then he married again and Misha began to live an independent life. He moved to Leningrad and since that time he did not communicate with his father.
The boy studied at the Leningrad School of Choreography, the famous school of Russian ballet. And soon he became a soloist of the famous Mariinsky Theater.
Mikhail joined the Mariinsky Theater immediately after the school, in 1967. He worked there for 7 years. Baryshnikov immediately became famous thanks to his unique talent, impeccable performance, perfect coordination.
In 1973, he was allowed to organize a creative evening and choose a repertoire independently. At the evening he performed Prodigal Son, Divertissement, Daphnis and Chloe – this was the peak of his work in Russia.
In 1973, Mikhail was awarded the title Honored Artist of the RSFSR. It wasn’t easy for freedom-loving young man to live in the country with its regime. Mikhail had not very good relationships not only with the leaders, but also with other performers.
Joseph Brodsky, a close friend of Baryshnikov, mentioned that if Mikhail had not left the USSR he would become an alcoholic. But the famous dancer was destined quite different fate.
In the summer of 1974, Mikhail did not return from the tour in Canada. The dancer asked for political asylum, although it was difficult for him to stay in the West. Also he received an invitation to join the American Ballet Theater, where he soon became the leader. On July 27 of the same year, the dancer first appeared before the American audience in New York, it was the ballet Giselle on the stage of the Metropolitan Opera. The audience screamed with delight. Since then, Mikhail has become a popular dancer of America.
Actually, he danced in classical and modern productions, staged his own version of The Nutcracker, worked with many choreographers. In 1978, Baryshnikov joined the NYCB ballet company, and ten years later returned to ABT, where he began his career in the United States as a soloist and artistic director. He managed to create a great troupe, to stage the original version of Cinderella and Swan Lake. A year later, Baryshnikov left ABT, because he did not want to coordinate creative plans with the directorate. And in 1990, together with choreographer Mark Morris, he created the White Oak Dance Project (WODP) in Florida.
By the way, after leaving the American ballet company Mikhail left classical ballet (because of the age) and since the early 1990s he has become a modern dance performer. And he surpassed himself by showing a new level of male dance, filling it with aesthetics and beauty. Many of his solo ballets are monologues-confessions, in which he “tells” about the transience of life, the inevitability of death, reflections on creativity.
From 1974 to 2002, Mikhail starred in six feature films. For his role in the film The Turning Point, filmed in 1977, he was nominated for Oscar and Golden Globe awards.
Three times Mikhail was given Emmy award for participation in TV programs. The same award he received for the film Baryshnikov on Broadway, where he co-starred with Liza Minnelli. For his role in the play Matemorfozy on Broadway he was nominated for Tony and Drama Critics Award. Also in his list of awards there are Kennedy Center Honor and National Medal of Arts.
Artist Alexander Petrovsky charmed all lovers of Sex and the City.
Then there were roles in the films Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit and My Father Is Baryshnikov.
Another achievement of the legendary Mikhail Nikolayevich associated with the restaurant business. We are talking about Russian Samovar in New York, which he opened with Joseph Brodsky and Roman Kaplan. They say, Mikhail has put all his savings from performances and Brodsky – Nobel Prize, into their restaurant.
Baryshnikov left his wife, ballerina Tatiana Koltsova in the Soviet Union.
Later, he had tempestuous affair with actress Jessica Lange. Mikhail did not know English, so they had to speak French. In 1981, their daughter Alexandra was born, but the couple broke up.
By the way, Mikhail and Liza Minnelli had a passionate but short-lived affair.
Now Mikhail lives with dancer Lisa Rinehart, and they have three children.
Baryshnikov has been engaged in photography for over 30 years. At one of his last exhibitions, held in New York gallery ABA, photos under the title Dance This Way were presented.
You know, Baryshnikov is one of the most famous male dancers of the 20th century.
In August 2017, the dancer got into the Top 100 influential Russians of this century, according to Forbes.
Besides, Baryshnikov received Latvian citizenship in 2017.