New York City is home a multitude of performance halls, music venues, art museums, galleries, and even outdoor spaces that promote creative expression. This city is home to a vibrant arts culture that is world renowned, attracting artists and performers from around the globe to contribute their own unique perspective. One such person is Mikhail Baryshnikov. A native of Riga, Latvia, Baryshnikov has made a tremendous mark on the world of performance through both his career as a dancer, and as the founder and current Artistic Director of the Baryshnikov Arts Center (BAC).
Earlier in his career, Baryshnikov graduated from the Vaganova Academy where he studied ballet, quickly becoming the principal dancer of the Kirov Ballet. Shortly thereafter, Baryshnikov left the Soviet Union to dance with major ballet companies around the world, including the prestigious New York City Ballet. Mr. Baryshnikov has been awarded many times throughout his career. He has received the National Medal of Honor, the Commonwealth Award, the Chubb Fellowship, the Jerome Robbins Award, and the NYC Dance Alliance Foundation’s Ambassador for the Arts Award, among others.
Before opening the BAC in 2005, Baryshnikov was director and dancer with the White Oak Dance Project. According to Mr. Baryshnikov’s bio, White Oak was born out of his desire to “be a driving force in the production of art,” and ultimately it “expanded the repertoire and visibility of American modern dance.”
The BAC is one of New York’s most esteemed arts centers, and invites artists from various backgrounds to participate in a great cultural discussion that in turn contributes to the prolific cultural hub that is NYC. According to the arts center, “BAC is the realization of a long-held vision by artistic director Mikhail Baryshnikov, who sought to build an arts center in New York City that would serve as a gathering place for artists from all disciplines.”
BAC has many incredible ongoing programs including an after school program that promotes youth in the arts, and BAC Presents, a series of innovative performances by local and international dance, music, theater, and multi-media artists. BAC also boasts an artist residency program that allows artists to “explore their creative endeavors, with BAC staff available to provide administrative and technical support.” Much of the BAC’s remarkable programming is made possible with support from generous donors and arts philanthropists. The J.C. Flowers Foundation, headed by local financier J. Christopher Flowers, the AG Foundation, the Lupin Foundation, the Jerome Robbins Foundation, and the Ford Foundation are just some of the prominent institutional donors that have helped allow the BAC to thrive in its first decade.
For more information on arts programming and how the BAC continues to cultivate culture, be sure to check out bacnyc.org.
Images: via Baryshnikov Arts Center.