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Born in Riga, Latvia, Mikhail Baryshnikov was the preeminent male classical dancer of the 1970s and ’80s.
After training at the Vaganova ballet school, he joined the Kirov Ballet. While on a dance tour in Toronto in June 1974, Baryshnikov defected and was granted asylum by the Canadian government. Soon thereafter he began a series of highly successful appearances before North American audiences.
Baryshnikov joined American Ballet Theatre in 1974 and later danced with the New York City Ballet under George Balanchine from 1978-79. In 1980 he returned to the ABT and served as the company’s Artistic Director until 1989.
In addition to his ballet career, Baryshnikov played a leading role as dancer and actor in the motion pictures The Turning Point (1977), White Nights (1985), That’s Dancing! (1985), and Dancers (1987), played a dramatic role in the Franz Kafka play Metamorphosis (1989), and made many appearances on television. He is currently the Director of the White Oak Dance Project.