Mikhail Baryshnikov
(1948 -  )
Above:  Barishnikov (red tights) use one hand to hold  Cynthia Harvey in the air. snatched from American Ballet Theatre’s 1983, Don Quixote Act I, a must watch film
Sergei Pulunin
Reviving Traditional Grande Ballet
Over the last half century, 3 dancers have sparked a revival of Traditional Ballet Grande.  This page is dedicated to them. These dancers love to experience various forms of dance.  They love to experiment and create, so one might ask, how can they be part of old soggy traditional ballet?  The old Masters noted in these web pages all explored various movement styles.
The dancers on this page are added to the Traditional Ballet list of greats because 1) They express themselves through movement. Their dance has an emotional charge. 2) They tell a story with their dance to those who listen with their hearts.  3) They have excellent traditional ballet technique.  After all, what fun is it to break a rule, if you don’t know what rule you are breaking?
(1989 - )
“The essence of all art
is to have pleasure
in giving pleasure.”
___ Mikhail Baryshnikov
Many consider him one of the greatest ballet dancers of the 20th century with abilities equal to Vaslav Nijinsky and Rudolf Nureyev.  It is certain that when dancing regularly, he can he "hang" a jump in the air. It seems he defies gravity with every leap.  Watching him, it is clear to me that it is more than his applauded technique, or his dedication to practice. It is the the strength of the inner man that rockets him into space.  Yet, he seems to be one of the most humble.  In a filmed interview he shrugged off his “greatness.”  Basically, he said double tours in the air?  No problem.  Anyone can do it.  All it takes is 3-5 hours a day practice, 5 to 6 days a week.  Nancy Beth Faloon has reported that he is often in the entry area of his New York center, greeting and chatting with folks as they come in.

Mikhail Nikolaevich Baryshnikov was born 1948 in Rigda Latvia USSR.  He began ballet in 1960. In 1964, he entered the Vaganova School, St. Petersburg. In 1967 he joined the Kirov Ballet (now Mariinsky Theater.)  In 1974, he defected while on tour in Canada with the Bolshoi Ballet.. Since then he has danced for over a dozen different choreographers, with different styles, including Jerome Robbins, Glen Tetley, Alvin Ailey, and Twyla Tharp.  From 1974 to 1978, he was principal dancer with the American Ballet Theatre (ABT), and worked with the New York City Ballet, with George Balanchine and as a regular guest artist with the Royal Ballet among other companies. 1980- 1989 he was with American Ballet Theatre as dancer and artistic director. From 1990 to 2002, Baryshnikov was artistic director of the White Oak Dance Project, a touring company he co-founded with Mark Morris. In 2005 he launched the Baryshnikov Arts Center in New York. In 2006, he married Lisa Rinehart and has 4 children.  He has also been in several films including The Turning Point and White Knights.
Has there ever been one so burdened with talent?

Sergei Polunin was born in Kherson, Ukrainian SSR.  He was placed in gymnastics school from age 4 to 8, then 4 years at Kyiv State Choreographic Institute. In 2003, age 13, he entered the Royal Ballet School in London, unable to speak English. In 2010, age 19, he became the Royal Ballet's youngest ever Principal Dancer.  His spectacular accomplishments came at a very high price.  It cost him all the things that most people take for granted.  Polunin missed out on all those silly little things we call a life.  He may have never taken the time to ask himself, “What do I want to be when I grow up?”  In 2012, he stated that he had become so unhappy that "the artist in me was dying.”  He left the Royal Ballet to face an uncertain future.  Since he was born in another country, no longer employed, he had to leave England. 

Above:  Mikhail Baryshnikov
Above: Sergei Pulunin 2015,
“Take Me To Church”
by Hozier, Directed by David LaChapelle
Above: Baryshnikov Corsaire snatched from video
Above: Sergei Pulunin 2012,
edited  version of Allen Warren photo.
Above: Sergei Polunin, Yellow Bird, date uncertain.

Above:  The Best of Baryshnikov (Compilation Part 1)
Above: Mikhail Baryshnikov - 'Vestris' (1969)
Maria Dare Dance History Collection
World Class Traditional Grande
Dancers & Ballerinas
Biographies, Photos, Links

Click to Pause Videos & Slide Shows
He did what he knew how to do.  He danced in Russia with The Stanislavsky Music Theatre and Novosibirsk State Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre.  Iin 2013, he walked out on .the Schaufuss Ballet's performance of Midnight Express just days before its opening night.  He then made guest performances in various places as he began to assemble a personal life.  He participated in “Dancer,” a documentary about his life.  In 2015, he danced in a video, “Take Me to Church,” music by Hozier.  It was truly unique a seamless blend of Traditional Ballet and other movements to modern day music.  It went viral, enthralling many who would not get caught in the act of buying a ticket to a ballet.  Since then Sergei has become a model, taken acting lessons and appeared in several non-dance films.  Now it seems he is finding his way back into dancing.  It is reported that he is working on a concept, “Project Polunin.”  His goal is to bring together dancers, contemporary artists, musicians and choreographers from various creative backgrounds to work together, creating new dance and ballet works for both stage and film.  It seems he desires to create an organization the circumvents the established ballet company system.  I say, go for it, Serge.  Revitalize ballet.  But Project Polunin will become as big of a trap as the established company/school system, unless you realize what is obvious to everyone else in the world.  Realize what?  That you love dancing ballet.  Only then will your talent cease to be a burden.
(1982 - )
Above: Sergei Polunin, Yellow Bird, date uncertain.
Above: Sergei Polunin,  Le Corsaire, date uncertain.
Above & Right:
Misty Copeland, Pas de Deux, Tchaikovsky, 2014
Above: Misty Copeland
Misty Copeland
Mikhail Baryshnikov &
Sergei Polunin
See also:

Updated: Feb. 21, 2021
© = R. W. Faulkner