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Eight spectacular performances that made Baryshnikov world famous

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Audiences have always loved the legendary ballet artist Mikhail Baryshnikov: once in the Soviet Union, now – in USA, Canada and elsewhere in the world. He possesses an excellent technique, graceful jumps and masterful acting talent.

Here are eight performances that reveal Mikhail Baryshnikov’s many talents.

Ballet miniature «Vestra»

This miniature was created by choreographer Leonids Jakobsons specifically for Mikhail Baryshnikov using music composed by Gennady Banshikov. This miniature was meant for participation in the First International Ballet Dancers Competition, which took place in Moscow 1969. This miniature consists of a gracious dance inspired by the story of a XVIII century dancer Gaétan Vestris, who stands as a symbol of sophistication and grace in choreography. Baryshnikov won first place and a gold medal in the competition.

Prince Albert in Adolphe Adam’s «Giselle»

The role of Prince Albert was one of the first Baryshnikov performed on Metropolitan Opera stage after his arrival in USA. The curtain was lifted 24 times after the first performance. In Baryshnikov’s interpretation, the prince is a romantic poet who sees Giselle as his ideal love. Flawless technique, intelligent portrayal, enormous charisma capable of inspiring all dancers – this was the way Baryshnikov was described by the press.

Ludwig Minkus «Don Quixote»

Don Quixote, based on Cervantes’s novel, is considered one of the treasures of Russian ballet traditions. Over the years it has undergone many additions and interpretations. While working in the American Ballet, Baryshnikov played the role of Basilio and participated in the restoration of Don Quixote in the states. Baryshnikov based his version on the version of XIX, which he considered chaotic but, nonetheless, lovable.

Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s «Nutcracker» alongside Gelsey Kirkland

Nutcracker was one of the classic ballets for which Baryshnikov had come up with new choreography after his relocation to USA. This ballet brought him incredible fame. In 1977, a television version was created. Nutcracker in Baryshnikov’s performance was captivating, exciting and magical, so much so, in fact, that it inspired ballet dancers over the course of the next two decades.

The leading role in Igor Stravinsky’s ballet «Apollo»

Stravinsky’s story about the birth of music god Apollo and his relationships with three nymphs (Terpsichore, Calliope and Polyhymnia) was intended as classic ballet. This ballet is one of the works by the founder of New York City ballet theatre George Balanchine.

Dancer Yuri Kopeikin in «The Turning Point»

The script is a fictionalized version of the real-life Brown family and the friendship between ballerinas Isabel Mirrow Brown and Nora Kaye. The film uses fragments from performances of the American ballet theatre. The Turning Point received eleven Oscar nominations, six Golden Globe nominations and won two Golden Globe awards.

Dancer Nikolai Rodchenko in «White Nights»

White Nights can be considered autobiographical work in which Baryshnikov plays the role of Soviet dancer Nikolai Rodchenko in his defection to the West. What is interesting is that the film uses scenes from Leningrad that were shot by some Finnish film company in secret.

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