Not all Russians like ballet, but I think most of us are born or raised with the appreciation of this beautiful and fluid art. When I was growing up my favourite uncle, Mikhail, danced in the Bolshoi and I can still visualise his always straight posture, the special way he held his back, positioned his feet-he was just so dashing-well, still is. As my uncle travelled around the world he brought over videos that were rare at the time, but allowed me and my cousin to watch Nureyev and Baryshnikov dance. I think thanks’ to my uncle I fell in love with Baryshnikov, this small, beautifully proportionate blond ballet dancer who danced with such ease and pirouetted like no one else.
This love for his talent stayed with me as I grew. When I was a bit older I saw him in ‘White Nights’ and the way that he danced to Vladimir Vysotskyi’s ‘Koni/Horses’ makes me shiver every time I think of that amazing marriage of song and dance. To this day, no one can dance it as passionately, as beautifully and with as much pain as Baryshnikov did then.
A few years ago I saw Baryshnikov dance at Sadler’s Wells and the Barbican. I watched the performances without moving, hardly daring to breathe because this elf of a man was so mesmerising in his dance and his passion for it. After the performance I waited outside (and I hardly ever do that!) and even managed to ask Baryshnikov a few questions, albeit in English.
He had a hard time growing up and dancing in Russia and even now, when I am sure there are plenty of people who want to bring him over for a performance or to curate his own photographic exhibitions (this man is full of creativity and wisdom and has so many talents) he refuses to come, maybe because the pain of his experience or how he was treated at the time has never gone away.
I think a younger generation of both men and women enjoyed watching him as an artistic boyfriend of Carrie Bradshaw in SATC-see what I mean about being multi-talented? And just recently he took part in the project with a well-known photographer & friend of his, Annie Leibovitz for Louis Vuitton.
For the last three years Annie Leibovitz photographed such dignitaries as Sean Connery and Mikhail Gorbachev for Louis Vuittons’s project, called Core Values Campaign. This year Louis Vuitton turned the table somewhat, putting Annie Leibovitz into the spotlight, together with her friend Misha Baryshnikov. The two artists are not only photographed together, but are filmed in conversation, talking about dancing, age, photography and reminiscing about life. Watching those videos I wished I could sit on the floor and have a chance to listen to this handsome and wise man in close proximity. There are many talented ballet dancers around the world, and maybe some of them are more technical than Baryshnikov used to be, but his force, his stage presence and his passion for ballet remain unrivalled. He continues to explore the dance, its facets, working with choreographers-young and older, raising the next generation of dancers through Baryshnikov Arts Center in New York and being himself, a truly very talented Man, who is fleetingly captures by Louis Vuitton in its campaign.
www.louisvuittonjourneys.com from February 11, 2010