Dance Legend Baryshnikov Performs in Florence

Mikhail Barishnikov reading the work of his friend Brodsky.

BRODSKY/BARYSHNIKOV is a meld of three great artistic minds. In Mikhail Baryshnikov’s one-man show, the renowned dancer reads the poetry of his friend and Nobel Prize-winning poet Joseph Brodsky at Florence’s Opera di Firenze on July 3, 4 and 5.

As a part of the program, on Monday, July 2, the University of Florence awarded Baryshnikov with an honorary master’s degree in performing sciences in recognition of his longtime and continued involvement in the arts. The performance is a part of the Maggio Musicale Festival series.

In the performance, Baryshnikov reads Brodsky’s poetry in Russian with Italian subtitles and performs his own choreography. The performance is a tribute to Brodsky, who passed away in 1996. Created and directed by the Latvian director of the New Riga Theater Alvis Hermanis, the show combines subtle choreographic elements, audio recordings and live readings against a haunting gazebo-like set.

Mikhail Baryshnikov describes the show, saying that “poems are both intellectual and instinctive, and much of their imaginary can be translated into the ways of body language.” Baryshnikov cites the Kabuki theater, flamenco, and the styles of the Butoh as the inspiration for his movements.

Born in Riga, Latvia in 1948, Baryshnikov began his career in the Kirov Ballet in Leningrad. After immigrating to the United States, he began dancing with the American Ballet Theater in 1974, and in 1979 he joined the New York City Ballet where he worked with the famed George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins. In 1980, he became the artistic director of ABT, and from 1990 – 2002, he founded his own company of which he was director and a dancer.

In 2005, the dancer and choreographer founded the Baryshnikov Arts Center in order to support artists around the world. His many awards include the Kennedy Center Honors, the National Medal of Arts, and the French Legion of Honor. A visionary artist and supporter of the arts, Baryshnikov’s performance serves as a complex engagement with the literary works of his longtime friend. (isabelle blank)

Performance information: Opera di Firenze: July 3, 4, 5 at 8 pm. For more information see here. See a preview of the performance here.