Tuesday, February 9, 2010
My daughters have taken dance lessons for several years, and their classes have always consisted of all girls, expect for one boy who has to take dance class because his sister is in the class and their grandparents felt it would be easier if they took a class together. My daughters think it's strange to see a boy in class, and they don't believe me when I tell them that one of the most famous ballet dancers in the world is a man.
Mikhail Nikolaevich Baryshnikov is a Soviet-born Russian American dancer, choreographer, and actor. In 1964, he entered the Vaganova School, in what was then Leningrad. While on an excruciating tour in Canada with the Bolshoi Ballet in 1974, Baryshnikov defected, requesting political asylum in Toronto. He also announced to the dance world he would not go back to the U.S.S.R.. While still in the Soviet Union, he was called by New York Times critic Clive Barnes "the most perfect dancer I have ever seen". His first performance after coming out of temporary seclusion in Canada was with the National Ballet of Canada in a televised version of La Sylphide. He then went on to the United States.
He worked with the New York City Ballet, with George Balanchine and as a regular guest artist with the Royal Ballet. He also partnered with Gelsey Kirkland from 1974 to 1978, where he was the principal dancer with the American Ballet Theatre. 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 also co-starred with Gregory Hines and Isabella Rossellini in the 1985 film White Nights, choreographed by Twyla Tharp. In addition to his successful film career, he has made guest appearances in several sitcoms including an appearance in the last season of Sex in the City.
As for his personal life, he has a daughter, Aleksandra Baryshnikova, from his relationship with actress Jessica Lange. He is in a long-term relationship with former ballerina Lisa Rinehart, and they have three children together. In an interview with Larry King, he stated that he didn't believe in marriage because the commitment that people make to each other didn't have anything to do with a legal marriage.