To Dream, to Collect

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Mikhail Baryshnikov

1948 Latvia

1 Works exhibited

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  • About the Artist

Mikhail Baryshnikov is a renown and respected Soviet-American dancer, who, after retiring, has shifted his focus to dance photography. He captures depictions of dancing – full of vitality, rich colour, movement and grace. 

“People ask have you stopped dancing and I say not quite. I do this. When I am doing this, I feel like I am dancing with them. I am still a dancer in my mind, and I continue dancing through these images in a way”.

Mikhail Baryshnikov was born in 1948, in Latvia. At the age of nine, he began studying ballet. As a teenager he moved to Leningrad where he entered the Vaganova Choreographic School, graduating from student to principal dancer of the Kirov Ballet in 1969. 

In 1974 he defected from the Soviet Union which gave him the opportunity to dance with major ballet companies around the world, including the New York City Ballet where he worked with George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins. In 1980 he began a 10-year tenure as Artistic Director of American Ballet Theatre, nurturing a new generation of dancers and choreographers.

From 1990 to 2002,  Baryshnikov was director and dancer with the White Oak Dance Project, which he co-founded with choreographer Mark Morris. White Oak was born of Baryshnikov’s desire “to be a driving force in the production of art,” and indeed, it expanded the repertoire and visibility of American modern dance. 

In 2005 he opened the Baryshnikov Arts Center (BAC), a creative home for local and international artists to develop and present their work. Located in the Manhattan neighborhood of Hell’s Kitchen, BAC houses four studios, a 150-seat studio theater, and a 238-seat Jerome Robbins Theater. Through its residency program, BAC gives space and time to young and established artists to dream and create in the Center’s studios without any commercial pressure. BAC also presents contemporary, innovative work by artists from the world of dance, theater, music, and film at low or no cost to the public. Under his leadership as Artistic Director, BAC programs serve approximately 500 artists, and more than 20,000 audience members each year. 

Among Baryshnikov's long list of awards, these include: the  Kennedy Center Honors, the National Medal of Honor, the Commonwealth Award, the Chubb Fellowship, the Jerome Robbins Award, and the 2012 Vilcek Award. In 2010 he was given the rank of Officer in the French Legion of Honor.

Aside from being renown as a dancer, Baryshnikov has practiced photography for over 30 years and is now also known for his dance photography.  His photographs capture the emotions of dance, they are full of vitality, rich colour, movement and grace. He effectively blurs movement portraying the dancers as somewhat alien or angelic. 

Despite having retired as a dancer himself, Baryshnikov explains that he is still a dancer in his mind and continues dancing through the images he captures. His process of photography involves being on stage with dancers. This closeness gives the photographs intimacy and insight; Baryshnikov’s lens is near enough to the movement to reveal its subtlety

Works by Mikhail Baryshnikov

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2006

112 x 155 cm

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