First love beckons Baryshnikov to dance
Newhouse News Service
"Sex and the City's" Aleksandr Petrovsky and Carrie Bradshaw may not have been a match made in heaven. But in real life, Mikhail Baryshnikov and dance are a divine pairing.
And now that Baryshnikov's stint as Petrovsky on the HBO show has come to an end, he is devoting himself to his first love. He will bring his intimate show, "Solos with Piano," to Moore Theatre on Tuesday and Wednesday.
At 56, Baryshnikov says he is enamored as ever with dance. As he put it, "I guess it's lust, lust of it."
He laughed then added, "I like to perform, especially (because of) the people whom I'm working with. They are such great choreographers. They give me exciting material to perform."
On his current solo world tour, Baryshnikov is performing several pieces with the accompaniment of pianist Koji Attwood. Several dates last fall — including the Moore appearance — had to be rescheduled after Baryshnikov injured his left knee during a rehearsal in September.
"I'm 100 percent back," he said.
Asked if he has thought about retiring, Baryshnikov admitted, "It's in my mind somewhere. But I'm not planning anything now," he added. "I'm in good shape, and I have a lot of projects ahead of me."
Baryshnikov's upcoming projects include a new theater piece, "Doctor and Patient or Forbidden Christmas," by Rezo Gabriadze, based on a tale set in a Georgian village. Also this year, the Baryshnikov Arts Center is slated to open in New York City.
The center will be in a new performing-arts complex, W37th Street Arts. Baryshnikov envisions the center as home for "a vibrant community of choreographers, dancers, composers, musicians, filmmakers, actors, directors, visual artists, designers, writers, and others," according to his foundation's Web site (www.baryshnikovdancefoundation.org).
Proceeds from his solo tour will benefit construction of the center.
Baryshnikov has been a leading figure in dance in the West since his defection from the Soviet Union 30 years ago.
His dazzling ballet technique and acting abilities rejuvenated the art form, spurring the dance "boom" of the late '70s and '80s. In recent years he has left the more physically demanding ballet roles behind, but he continues to be an innovator.
He often works with newer, less established choreographers. And even when he works with well-known choreographers, he normally performs newer works. On his current solo tour, for example, all but one of the pieces were created last year.
Veteran choreographer Eliot Feld created one of the works from scratch in the studio with Baryshnikov. Collaborations like these are the main reason why Baryshnikov still dances.
"It's fascinating to see a person ... create a piece," he said. "It's a fascinating process. It's very exciting."
In fact, Baryshnikov said he actually enjoys creating a piece more than performing it.
"I spend more time in the rehearsal studio than I spend in front of the audience," he said. "That's the proportion I like. Some people do opposite. They like to perform. And maybe studio work for them is a bit too frustrating. I like it."
Being involved in the creation of new pieces was one reason why Baryshnikov switched years ago from classical ballet to modern dance.
"I was always fascinated by the work of modern choreographers," Baryshnikov said. "Because for me, the field and the talent by comparison was much wider and deeper than, and still is, than in the classical field.
"All classical choreographers of a real stature are gone," Baryshnikov said. "Now, very few people work successfully in the classical field."
So if you happen to see Baryshnikov in a new ballet — or perhaps another television show — don't be too surprised.
As he said when explaining why he decided to take on his role in "Sex and the City," "I have a tendency to go for the project I am most scared of."
Seattle Times staff contributed to this report.
Copyright © 2004 The Seattle Times Company