Boyishly cute, diminutive and strong as a bull, but as graceful as any gazelle or swan, Mikhail Baryshnikov is a household name even to non-balletomanes. Widely considered to be one of the greatest and biggest names in dance.
Mikhail began his ballet studies in his native Riga, Latvia. He was accepted by the Leningrad Choreographic School, the associate school of the Kirov Ballet. One of his instructors there was Alexander Pushkin, who had taught Rudolf Nureyev - who defected in Paris and was already making a name for himself in America. Among Baryshnikov's friends at the school were Alexander Godunov (nicknamed Sasha) and "ballerina assoluta" Natalia Makarova.
Mikhail joined the Kirov Ballet of Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) and his technique and balletic abilities were so great, he skipped the corps and was immediately put in a soloist position. While doing quite well in Russia, even finding an audience fanbase, the government and dance seemed to be too limiting and frustrating for