Mikhail Baryshnikov

A SOVIET celebrity by his early twenties, this virtuoso classical dancer made his most daring leap in 1974, when he defected to the United States via Canada. Baryshnikov first performed with the American Ballet Theatre, and in 1978 joined George Balanchine’s New York City Ballet. (He later returned to A.B.T. as its director.) His classical good looks have made him quite popular with the ladies; Liza Minnelli, Candy Clark, Janine Turner, and Jessica Lange (with whom he has a daughter) are just a few of the bevy of beautiful women with whom he has shared special and romantic moments. All this, and he’s only five-foot-seven.

In 1977, Misha pirouetted his way to an Oscar nomination for Turning Point; he was also well-reviewed in White Nights, and, on Broadway, for his 1989 performance in Metamorphosis. Though age and injuries have lowered his leaps, he continues to invent and jeté–most notably with choreographers Twyla Tharp and Mark Morris–for his own modern dance company, the White Oak Dance Project.

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