Baryshnikov: From Russia to the West

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9780374109080: Baryshnikov: From Russia to the West

Dust jacket notes: "Mikhail Baryshnikov is generally considered the greatest classical ballet dancer since Nijinsky. Yet until now the course of his artistic development has been analyzed only sporadically. As a friend of Baryshnikov since 1965, and as a dance critic both in Russia and in the United States, Gennady Smakov is eminently qualified to fill this gap. In Smakov's book we learn that Baryshnikov did not begin to dance until he was twelve years old - old enough to be influenced by Khrushchev's cultural thaw and to steer his ambitions accordingly. Within four years he was studying at the Kirov School in Leningrad under the tutelage of Rudolf Nureyev's former teacher. His rise to stardom was beset by struggles against the Kirov's paucity of repertoire, its politically motivated penchant for 'robust, life-affirming' drama-ballets more suitable to amateur actors than to a dancer with Baryshnikov's potential. Desperate for a change from this stale artistic routine - even after attaining starring roles in the classical ballets he loved, and the most coveted awards, and a decent apartment in Leningrad - Baryshnikov defected to the West at the age of twenty-six. It took only one performance (July 27, 1974) at New York's American Ballet Theatre for Baryshnikov to become an unprecedented sensation in the American dance world. He has since deployed all facets of his remarkable skill with the intensity of a Renaissance man. He transcended his Russian classical heritage almost immediately by mastering the range of Western choreographic styles; created his own brilliant productions of The Nutcracker and Don Quixote; acted in the movie The Turning Point; and experimented with George Balanchine's taxing neoclassical style - all within six years of his flight fro the Kirov. This exacting and insatiable artist well deserves the thorough analysis of his career that Gennady Smakov has provided...." Photographs.

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