His complete commencement speech this morning has been posted by Northwestern University. He has some interesting things to say about the arts: http://vimeo.com/68869537
Baryshnikov Commencement speech at Northwestern UniversityJune 21, 2013
Posted 21 June 2013 - 03:58 PM
Thanks California, I found this very interesting too. Apparently he asked Bill Clinton and Rahm Emanuel for speech advice. ;)
[There's an article at the Chicago Tribune website on this subject, but I'm told that is a subscription only website]
Aging dancer in a new role — NU commencement speaker
June 21, 2013
The speech. What would he say?
He'd say that art is not just for the artist. That one of the highest compliments for anyone in any field is to be called an artist. That there's artistry to politics.
He would say these things to students far better educated than he was at their age. At 19, after growing up in a communal apartment in Latvia, sharing a single kitchen and a single toilet with other families, he'd gone straight to work, to dance, and before long to America.
"And then," he said, "life went like that."
He snapped his fingers to show how fast life happens.
...but he remains one of the most famous dancers of all time, a fact that may be less relevant to the current college generation than his role as Carrie Bradshaw's temperamental older boyfriend on "Sex and the City."
In his season on the show, Baryshnikov was called "The Russian," and to many Americans, especially those old enough to remember when his ballets and romances made headlines, he will always be quintessentially Russian.
To himself, he's fully American.
Since his notorious defection in 1974, he has never been back to Russia, he said, though he has been back to Latvia, where his mother, who committed suicide when he was in his teens, is buried.
"I'm a product of Russian culture," he said, "but I never felt it was my country."
And sometimes he dances.
"It hurts more," he said, "and there's a longer warm-up."
He stays in shape with a regular dance routine, physical therapy and stretching.
"Choreographers use me as the old guy who still dances," he said. "Not that I put on white tights."
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