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New York Times: Mikhail Baryshnikov on Leaving Everything Behind...

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Published Time: 28.06.2024 - 16:14:50 Modified Time: 28.06.2024 - 16:14:50

“That car took me to the free world,” Baryshnikov, 76, recalled in a recent interview. “It was the start of a new life.” New York Times



“That car took me to the free world,” Baryshnikov, 76, recalled in a recent interview. “It was the start of a new life.”

His cloak-and-dagger escape helped to make him a cultural celebrity. “Soviet Dancer in Canada Defects on Bolshoi Tour,” The New York Times declared on its front page.

But the focus on his decision to leave the Soviet Union has sometimes made Baryshnikov uneasy. He said he does not like how the term “defector” sounds in English, conjuring an image of a traitor who has committed high treason.

“I’m not a defector — I’m a selector,” he said. “That was my choice. I selected this life.”

Baryshnikov was born in the Soviet city of Riga, now part of Latvia, and moved to Leningrad, now St. Petersburg, in 1964, when he was 16, to study with the renowned teacher Alexander Pushkin. When he was 19, he joined the Kirov Ballet, now known as the Mariinsky, and quickly became a star on the Russian ballet scene.

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