Mikhail Baryshnikov, a native of Riga, Latvia, was born in 1948 and began studying ballet at the age of nine. As a teenager, he entered the Vaganova Academy in Leningrad, graduating from student to principal dancer of the Kirov Ballet in 1969. In 1974, he left the Soviet Union 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, Mr. 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 work. Since its founding, the Center has hosted numerous artists and productions from the United States and abroad.
Among Mr. Baryshnikov’s many awards are the Kennedy Center Honors, the National Medal of Honor, the Commonwealth Award, the Chubb Fellowship, the Jerome Robbins Award, the NYC Dance Alliance Foundation’s Ambassador for the Arts Award, and the 2012 Vilcek Award. In 2010 he was given the rank of Officer of the French Legion of Honor.