On this Day in 1948

In Homage to His Birthday a Film Reveals Baryshnikov Emerging from Shadow

Anonymous body parts lithely moving through darkness are slowly unveiled to be those of danseur noble Mikhail Baryshnikov in this excerpt from filmmaker Asa Mader's touching portrait. Filmed at the Baryshnikov Art Center in New York, the short is part of a series by Mader that includes profiles of acclaimed war photographer James Nachtwey and Pulitzer-prize nominated author Suketu Mehta. “As a dancer, it’s about your body, your gestures, your movements,” says Mader of working with the celebrated ballet star, who turns 64 today. “It was about finding a sense of choreography in the relationship between the body and the camera.” Known for his flawless technique and graceful athleticism combined with an emotive performance style, Baryshnikov rose to fame in the 1970s after he defected from the USSR while touring in Canada as a member of the Kirov Ballet. He subsequently embarked on a lengthy career with the American Ballet Theatre and the New York City Ballet, starring in roles that cemented his title as one of the 20th century’s most masterful dancers, and has gone on to have a successful career as an artistic director, choreographer, and actor, perhaps most notably in Sex and the City. “I was trying to find a way to make a portrait of an artist who is essentially no longer in his prime,” says Mader, who drew inspiration from Caravaggio’s muted palette and shadowy compositions. “He becomes this tragic and heroic figure. It’s incredible to see him at this age, with the nuance that comes with that.”

Produced by: Corinne Golden Weber
Director of Photography: Ghasem Ebrahimian
Sound Design: Dug Winningham

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