BARYSHNIKOV TO DELIVER NORTHWESTERN COMMENCEMENT ADDRESS
by Hedy Weiss
Mikhail Baryshnikov, the international dance superstar, as well as a theater, film and television actor -- and the man still known for grabbing headlines when, during the Soviet era, he defected to the West from the fabled Kirov Ballet -- will receive an honorary degree and deliver the main address at Northwestern University's 155th commencement. The 2013 ceremony will be held at 9:30 a.m. on June 21, at the University's Ryan Field.
Known in popular culture for his role as Alex Petrovsky, a Russian artist (and Sarah Jessica Parker's love interest) in the final season of the hit HBO show, "Sex in the City," Baryshnikov took his earnings from that work to subsequently establish the Baryshnikov Arts Center in New York, where, since 2005, he has supported and showcased the work of artists in many disciplines. He also has become a widely exhibited photographer.
Born in Riga, Latvia, to Russian parents, Baryshnikov trained in Riga until moving in 1964 to Leningrad to study at the Vaganova School. In 1969, he was accepted as a soloist into the Kirov Ballet and quickly was promoted to the rank of principal dancer. In 1974, while touring in Canada, he decided to stay in the West and made his debut with American Ballet Theatre at the New York State Theater dancing the role of Albrecht in "Giselle" with Natalia Makarova.
In 1977, Baryshnikov was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his work in the film "The Turning Point." He was awarded an Emmy for "Baryshnikov on Broadway" with Liza Minelli in 1980. He received a Drama Desk Award in 1989 for his theatrical and Broadway debut portraying Gregor Samsa in Steven Berkoff's adaptation of Franz Kafka's "Metamorphosis." Other theater projects include Rezo Gabriadze's "Forbidden Christmas," Joann Akalaitis' "Beckett Shorts" and Dimitri Krymov's adaptation of Ivan Bunin's short story "In Paris."
Baryshnikov is currently developing "Man in a Case," a theatrical adaptation of Chekov's short story, directed by Paul Lazar and Annie B-Parson for a March premiere at Hartford Stage.
The Baryshnikov Arts Center contains a small black box studio, as well as a 238-seat theater, and serves approximately 500 artists, and more than 22,000 audience members annually through presentations and artist residencies.
Baryshnikov has received numerous honors including a 2000 honor from the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the National Medal of the Arts (2000), the Jerome Robbins Award (2005) and the University Chubb Fellowship (2003-04). In 2010, he was named an Officer of the French Legion of Honor.