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Sunday, March 7, 2004 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Baryshnikov's acting skills set him apart from dancers

While many Soviet-trained dancers who defected to the West boasted brilliant ballet technique and stage charisma (think Rudolf Nureyev), Baryshnikov set himself apart with his remarkable acting skills.

His roles in a number of the classics — "Petrushka," "The Prodigal Son," Albrecht in "Giselle" — were immediately hailed as triumphs of characterization.

Those acting chops translated well to the screen, and Baryshnikov has starred in a number of movies and TV shows. In 1985, he teamed with Isabella Rossellini and tap great Gregory Hines in the diverting "White Nights."

Two years later, he was well cast as a ballet star and lady-killer in the ill-advised "Dancers."

But his best big-screen role was undoubtedly his first: "The Turning Point" (1977), a backstage-at-the-ballet movie starring Shirley MacLaine and Anne Bancroft, for which he nabbed an Academy Award supporting-actor nomination.

His recent turn as international art star Aleksandr Petrovsky, a character on HBO's "Sex and the City," brought him back into the popular consciousness. And while his on-screen romance with Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker) came to no good end, well ... they'll always have Paris.

— Lynn Jacobson, Seattle Times assistant A&E editor

Copyright © 2004 The Seattle Times Company

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