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Arts center honors 'greatest living dancer'

March 13, 2006

Photo of Mikhail BaryshnikovSFSU's International Center for the Arts will honor Mikhail Baryshnikov, deemed "the greatest living dancer" by Time magazine, with a $25,000 George and Judy Marcus Lifetime Achievement Award on March 21.

He was selected for the Marcus award, said President Robert A. Corrigan, "because of his reputation worldwide as an unparalleled and daring performer, a determined visionary and a staunch advocate for creative freedom."

Baryshnikov will receive the award in person at "Bridging the Baltic: An Evening Honoring Mikhail Baryshnikov" at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco.

Baryshnikov, a native of Latvia, began studying ballet at 9. He joined the Kirov Ballet of Leningrad at 15, quickly becoming a soloist. After defecting to the United States in 1974, he went on to serve as principal dancer with the New York City Ballet and American Ballet Theatre. He was artistic director of the American Ballet Theatre for nine years. Baryshnikov has also starred in five films, earning an Oscar nomination in 1977 for his performance in "The Turning Point." The New York resident is developing the Baryshnikov Arts Center, a nonprofit laboratory for new work and a creative haven for artists of all disciplines.

"It is an honor to be chosen to receive the Marcus prize," Baryshnikov said. "I commend San Francisco State University and George Marcus for creating the International Center for the Arts. It is truly the intersection of art and education."

The International Center for the Arts, created with a $3 million gift from alumni George and Judy Marcus, celebrates some of the world's most innovative arts and artists, with a focus on documentary films and visual art. Earlier this month the center's Documentary Film Institute honored filmmakers Richard Leacock and D.A. Pennebaker with a $25,000 Marcus Award for Lifetime Achievement. Israel "Cachao" Lopez, known as the creator of Mambo music and the "godfather of Cuban bass," was the first recipient of the Marcus award in 2005.

The March 21 ceremony honoring Baryshnikov begins at 7:30 p.m. and includes a performance by the Grammy-award winning chamber orchestra Kremerata Baltica, invited by Baryshnikov. The 27-member ensemble features musicians from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

Tickets range from $20 to $25 and are available through the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Box Office.

For details, visit the College of Creative Arts Web site.

-- Student Writer Lisa Rau with Matt Itelson
Photo: Nathaniel Goldberg


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Last modified March 13, 2006 by University Communications