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Mikhail Baryshnikov is a Russian-American ballet dancer who choreographed several iconic pieces which have made him one of the greatest ballet dancers of the 20th century.
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Baryshnikov left the ABT for the New York City Ballet in 1978. There,
he had a chance to work with such leading choreographers as George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins. Around this same time, in 1979 and 1980, Baryshnikov won two Emmy Awards for television dance specials. His time with the NYCB proved to be short, however. Baryshnikov returned to the ABT as artistic director and a principal dancer in 1980.
Continuing to explore other forms of expression, Baryshnikov starred opposite Gregory Hines in the 1985 dancing drama White Nights. He also appeared in the 1989 production of Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis. In addition to performing on stage and in film, Baryshnikov started his own perfume line, called Misha (his nickname).
In 1990, Baryshnikov left the ABT to create the avant-garde White Oak Dance Project with Mark Morris—a move reflecting a shift toward contemporary dance. "It's less mannered, more democratic, more transparent and, from my point of view, closer to the hearts of people," Baryshnikov told the New Statesman. Through this new company, he worked and supported new pieces created by the likes of Twyla Tharp, Jerome Robbins and Mark Morris.
In December 2000, Baryshnikov was recognized, along with other cultural luminaries, for a lifetime of extraordinary achievement at the Kennedy Center Honor Awards.
In 2002, Baryshnikov disbanded the White Oak Project to focus on his next big project. Through his foundation, he opened the Baryshnikov Arts Center in New York City in 2004. This facility was created as "a gathering place for artists from all disciplines," according to its website. It houses a theater and a performance space as well as studios and offices to use for different creative endeavors.
While he spent a lot of time working behind the scenes on BAC, Baryshnikov never stepped away from performing. He made a memorable guest appearance in the cable comedy Sex and the City as a Russian artist and the love interest of Sarah Jessica Parker from 2003 to 2004. Despite knee troubles, Baryshnikov continued to dance into his 50s and 60s.
Baryshnikov put aside his dancing shoes for some of his most recent projects, however. He starred in the play In Paris in 2011 and 2012, which is based on a story by Ivan Bunin. The following year, Baryshnikov starred in an experimental theater production called Man in a Case in Hartford, Connecticut.
Mikhail Baryshnikov is married to former ABT ballerina Lisa Rinehart. The couple has three children together: Peter, Anna and Sofia-Luisa. Baryshnikov has a fourth child, a daughter named Alexandra (born in 1981), from his previous relationship with actress Jessica Lange. Baryshnikov has also been romantically linked to dancer Gelsey Kirkland, who he worked with at both the New York City Ballet and the ABT.
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