He has danced for the USSR and America, appeared in the Golden Globe nomination list, and been touted as one of the greatest ballet dancers of the twentieth century. Hell, he was even Carrie Bradshaw’s love interest at some point. Mikhail Baryshnikov has done many things, but above all he has always been a ballet dancer. On the occasion of his 64th birthday last week, this film portrait courtesy of Nowness pays homage to the performer.
Considerably older than when in his prime, Baryshnikov still emits the same flawless technique and grace that granted him so many successes in his youth. After living in Soviet Russia and performing with the Kirov Ballet, Baryshnikov defected to Canada and began dancing with the New York City Ballet and American Ballet Theatre, where he later became artistic director and continued to work in a string of theatre, screen and artistic roles. At first hidden within the shadows and behind his own limbs, the dancer remains unidentified until the last seconds of this film, his somewhat tragic stare within the hollow depths of grey painting a picture of a man no longer in his prime.
Filmmaker Asa Mader, director of this portrait, endeavoured to create a relationship between the body and the camera, just as Baryshnikov was able to create emotion through movement. Having worked together already in 2009 on a dance and film piece entitled Years Later, the marriage of film and performance work perfectly. The short by Mader—a Brown and NYU graduate—is part of a filmic portrait series recorded on 16mm and Super 8 film.
I wonder what they’ll do for his 65th.