Baryshnikov's Defection From Russia

Baryshnikov's defection almost didn't take place, without the support from friends he probably would not have summoned the courage to defect. Defection scared Baryshnikov, with instances such as Valery Panov he was unsure of which actions he should take. He wanted freedom for personal and artisitc reasons, and in Russia he was not provided with any sort of liberty. KGB minders often acted as his body guards and were present often. With support from his friends he finally decided he would defect after the final performance with a touring Soviet troupe. The group was touring in Canada and was finishing a run of performances in Toronto at the O'Keefe center when Baryshnikov made his move. A few of his close friends had orchestrated an elaborate plan for Baryshnikov to escape his Russian world and come dance in the West. June 29, 1974 was the planned date of his defection. The entire plan was delayed by half an hour becuase stage hands could not open the curtain at the beginning of the performance. He danced the Don Quxiote pas de deux last, and recieved many curtain calls which even further delayed the escape. After the performance had ended and he was dressed and ready to go, KGB minders told him to board a bus that was taking all the dancers to a post performance party. At that moment a bunch of admirers swamped him and begged for autographs, thanks to his fans he was able to sneak away through the people to an awating car parked near the theater.

flying

Photo courtesy of http://www.apogeefoundation.org/images/people/fame/baryshnikov.jpg

Home

Biography

Definition of Defection

Political Asylum in Canada

Life in the US