Mikhail Baryshnikov captivated ballet audiences from the late 1960s through the early 1980s. In his prime, no male dancer was his equal, and his work has stood the test of time. What makes Baryshnikov the greatest male dancer of all time? In this video, I analyze two of my favorite Baryshnikov solos to demonstrate what separates him from other dancers. His memorable performances were defined by his great technical command, confidence, and dynamic stage presence, characteristics that are on full display in these solos. Steps include Cabriole Devant, Double Assemblé or Grand Assemblé en Tournant, Double Tour en l’air, Pirouette: En dehors, Sissonne, Failli, Double Jeté Entrelacé or Rivoltade, Turn in Second (á la Seconde). Sources: Thanks to Jeremy Nasmith for guidance on the first step in the Basil “Drunk” solo. Baryshnikov photos by Vladimir Bliokh.
Baryshnikov Live at Wolf Trap, Kultur, 2004, taped live performance in 1976 (two years after his defection from the Soviet Union) at Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts in Virginia. Outstanding Baryshnikov performances in Copéllia, Le Sprectre de la Rose, Vestris, and the Don Quixote Pas de Deux with Gelsey Kirkland. American Ballet Theatre Don Quixote, Kultur, 2003, a 1983 performance live at the Metropolitan Opera House with Cynthia Harvey as Kitri. This was Baryshnikov’s Don Quixote production when he was the company’s artistic director.American Ballet Theatre Giselle, Bel Canto, 1992, one of the finest examples of this classic tragedy, with Natalia Makarova as Giselle from 1977 taped live at the Metropolitan Opera House.