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Mikhail Baryshnikov was born in Riga the capital of Latvia in 1948. He began ballet at the age of 12, at the Riga dance school. Most young ballet students began training at the age of 9 or 10, so Baryshnikov had a late start. Due to his incredible ability to memorize the vocabulary so quickly he was promoted to the advanced level after two years. After only four years of training he was accepted to the elite Vaganova School in (what was called at the time) Leningrad. He studied under Aleksander Pushkin, who had previously instructed Rudolf Nureyev. Pushkin and Nureyev were very close friends, when Nureyev defected Baryshnikov entered Pushkin's life. In a way Baryshnikov helped Pushkin deal with Nureyev's departure by becoming Pushkin's new star pupil. Baryshnikov competed in the International Varna Competition and won the hightest award. People started to notice him, and word spead of this new dancer with perfect technique.He joined the Kirov Ballet as a soloist in 1967. Choreographers took notice of Baryshnikov and started to choreograph ballets for him. While touring in Ottawa Canada in 1974 Baryshnikov defected and left his Russian world behind him.


Definition of Defection

Baryshnikov's Defection From Russia

Political Asylum in Canada

Life in the US