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Mikhail Baryshnikov awarded $100,000 for lifetime achievement

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A release:

Vilcek Foundation Names 2012 Immigrant Prize Recipients in the Arts¾Spotlight on Dance

Mikhail Baryshnikov awarded $100,000 for lifetime achievement

Daara Dance troupe founder Michel Kouakou awarded $25,000 for creative promise

New York, NY, February 13, 2012 ¾ The Vilcek Foundation is pleased to name the 2012 winners of its Vilcek Prizes honoring the contributions of foreign-born artists and scientists in the United States. The Vilcek Prize for the Arts, this year awarded in the field of dance, is presented to Mikhail Baryshnikov, born in Latvia to Russian parents, for his body of distinguished work and his legacy of advancing the field of dance. The Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise is given to dancer and choreographer Michel Kouakou, originally of Ivory Coast, for his versatile and globally influenced performances and choreography.

The prizes embody the Vilcek Foundation’s mission to publicize and celebrate the accomplishments of foreign-born artists, scholars, and scientists. “Mikhail Baryshnikov is a dauntless innovator who continues to have a global impact in the field of dance,” said Marica Vilcek, Vice President of the Foundation. “His contribution to the performing arts, as well as the inspired vision and talent of these emerging dancers and choreographers, demonstrate the vibrancy immigrant artists bring to American culture.”

For Mr. Baryshnikov, the Vilcek Prize is one of the many honors he has received since1974, when he defected from the Soviet Union in pursuit of artistic and personal freedoms. Trained by the formidable Russian ballet masters, Mr. Baryshnikov has danced with major ballet companies around the world, including New York City Ballet. As Artistic Director of American Ballet Theatre (1980-1989), and Director of White Oak Dance Project (1989-2002), which he co-founded with Mark Morris, Mr. Baryshnikov gained a reputation as a prominent producer of large-scale, experimental works, nurturing a new generation of dancers and choreographers. In 2005, he opened the Baryshnikov Arts Center, a creative home for local and international artists to develop and present work, and currently serves as its Artistic Director.

Mr. Baryshnikov is pleased to share the spotlight with Michel Kouakou, recipient of the 2012 Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise. Mr. Kouakou is the founder of the Daara Dance company, and he draws upon the dance traditions from four different continents: Africa, Asia, Europe, and North America. He is equally comfortable performing traditional West African dance as modern dance, and choreographs in a space between the two. The prize includes a cash award of $25,000, to support a younger generation of immigrant artists who have distinguished themselves early in their careers. When not performing, Mr. Kouakou is a dance instructor at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Mr. Baryshnikov and Mr. Kouakou were chosen, after months of deliberation, by juries made up of critics, dancers, choreographers, arts presenters, and ballet masters, representing notable institutions such as The Juilliard School, Dance Magazine, the National Endowment for the Arts, Jacob’s Pillow Dance, and the New York City Ballet.

The juries also selected four finalists for the Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise in Dance, who will each receive a cash award of $5,000:

· French-born Fanny Ara, known for both her traditional and modern flamenco performances and choreography;

· Vietnamese-born Thang Dao, an accomplished performer and founder of the Thang Dao Dance Company;

· Italian-born Alice Gosti, a modern choreographer who turned heads with her provocative piece Spaghetti Co.; and

· Swedish-born Pontus Lidberg, an interdisciplinary ballet choreographer and performer who has presented his work around the world.

The prizewinners and finalists will be honored at the Vilcek Foundation’s annual awards ceremony in New York City on April 2, 2012. For more information on all the Vilcek Prizes and recipients, please visit www.vilcek.org.

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