This week we feature ballet dancer, actor and Russian defector, Mikhail Baryshnikov! Baryshnikov was born January 27, 1948, in Riga, Latvia. He began studying ballet in 1960 and defected from the Soviet Union in 1974 while performing in the US.
From his page on The Kennedy Center website:
Baryshnikov defected from the Soviet Union in 1974 in search for artistic and personal freedom in the West. He made his debut with the American Ballet Theatre that same year, dancing Giselle with Natalia Makarova. He stayed with ABT for the next four years, voraciously learning and defining new roles, expanding his horizons as well as those of male dancing. Memorably, he also staged ABT's productions of The Nutcracker,Don Quixote and Cinderella.
In 1978, Baryshnikov left ABT for New York City Ballet, where he could work with George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins. He returned to ABT in 1980, not only as principal dancer but also as artistic director, a distinguished position he held for almost a decade.
Baryshnikov has also enjoyed a successful movie and television career, guest-starring in such shows as Sex and the City and the movie White Nights with Gregory Hines, which is about a Russian dancer defecting to the US. Here is a clip of Baryshnikov dancing in White Nights: