American Tribute to Vaclav Havel and a Celebration of Democracy in Czechoslovakia 1989 - 1990 (TV Show)
Although many articles on Mikhail Baryshnikov have described the melancholy look in his eyes and attributed it to his exile from Mother Russia, nothing could be further from the truth. In reality, the ten years spent in his homeland were the most frustrating of his life, as the artist in him chafed against the rigidness of the Soviet state. Born in Riga, Latvia to Russian parents (his curt, cold father was a soldier of occupation), Baryshnikov ostensibly began his life in exile. His mother, who introduced him to ballet at the age of 9, committed suicide when he was 12, causing him to fall back completely on himself to develop the singular focus of the committed dancer. The purity of his ballet technique, the virtuosity of his split leaps and cyclonic pirouettes that did not compromise it and the fullness of his ambition combined to make Baryshnikov the preeminent dancer of the late 20th Century. His appearances in movies and his high-profile romances heightened his allure and turned him into the first electronic-media ballet star, his fame surpassing that of the ground-breaking Rudolph Nureyev, who had preceded him.