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the glue factory

May 17, 2009

[NYTimes] Wherever Mikhail Baryshnikov is right now, odds are he’s stretching something. Warming up or cooling down. It’s all part of an hours-long regimen involving ballet barres and floor mats and exercise balls, necessary to keep his 61-year-old body in fighting trim.

This isn’t for vanity. Mr. Baryshnikov is in the midst of a two-month European tour with choreography by Mats Ek, Benjamin Millepied and Alexei Ratmansky — and lots of Mikhail Baryshnikov. (The tour comes to the United States in the fall, beginning with a performance at Santa Monica College in California on Sept. 4.) He dances three solos, including Mr. Ek’s “Solo for Two” with Ana Laguna, Mr. Ek’s wife and muse.

“I’m telling them, do something for an old man,” Mr. Baryshnikov said in an interview at his Baryshnikov Arts Center in Manhattan last month. (He was, for the record, sitting on an exercise ball.) He gave one of his deep-throated chuckles. “Ana’s also mid-50s, and kind of the same age bracket, so to speak: the glue factory.”

Mr. Baryshnikov is fond of the old-man quips these days. But his performances are hardly portraits of a diminished star. (In an earlier rehearsal the ease and precision with which he whipped through spiraling, off-balance jumps had Mr. Millepied, a New York City Ballet principal, whistling softly in appreciation.) Rather they are portraits of the dancer as mature artist, one with remarkable physical clarity. And, he still has the best hands in the business. (read)

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