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Mikhail Baryshnikov
It seemed incredible to see the figure of Mikhail Baryshnikov, on the afternoon of March 28th, rushing through gate No. 3 of the VIP room, at Havanas Airport "Rancho Boyeros".

We knew so much about him; he was considered one of the best dancers of the 20th Century having survived the 21st.

People speculated so much on his arriving into Cuba, that to see him wearing his mustard-colored sack, his white tennis and his cap -as one more tourist of the many that visit the Caribbean Island- was incredible.

The warrior "Solor", the Duke "Albrecht", the Slave "Alí", the "Rose's Spectrum", the puppet "Petroushka", the God "Apollo", and the interpreter of Sinatras songs at the style of Twyla Tharp, the Merce Cunninghams alloys, or Mark Morris novelties, stepped the Cuban floor, to attend the 14th International Encounter of Academies for the Teaching of Ballet.

Mikhail Baryshnikov is in Cuba.

Baryshnikov was born in Riga, Russia, in 1948. He studied at the "Vagánova" school of San Petersburgo, that he finished to integrate the famous "Kirov" Ballet company. There he became a Main Ballet Figure.

Some time later, in 1969, he was decorated with a gold medal, at the First International Ballet Contest, held in Moscow, where hes remembered by his dances "La Bayadera" and "Vestris", this latter being a choreography of Leonid Jacobson.

From this time on, he began to be a myth within Ballet.

By 1972 he was residing in the Western Hemisphere and, very soon he became a star of the American Ballet Theater, a company he directed. He also worked with other companies like the New York City Ballet or the Martha Graham Dance Company, and made some contributions for the cinema, the theater and the musical theater.

But, unexpectedly, he left the world of the pirouettes and the arabesques, and created the White Oak Dance Project, together with the young choreographer Mark Morris. It was an experimental project that lasted up to 2002, a year in which he began to forge a new dream: the creation of the Barishnikov Arts Center, located in the 37th street and Tenth Avenue, in the core of Manhatan city, very near the entrance of the Lincoln tunnel.

This Center aimed at bringing support to the young dancers, and artists in general, mainly those working the Visual Arts, Music and Literature. In 2006, the project was run from a beautiful post-modern building, upholstered with glasses and conditioned for the development of these artistic activities.

When arriving in Havana, Baryshnikov thanked the Cuban Arts School National Center - that this year celebrates its 45th anniversary - and especially Ramona de Sáa, Director of the National School of Ballet, as well as Professor Azari Plisetsky, who had talked to him so well about the Cuban Ballet teachers and the Cuban style of teaching, and who also arrived in Havana to participate in the encounter and teach to a group of Cuban male dancers.

"Misha", as hes popularly known in the world of arts, stated that "the three more important Ballet schools nowadays are the Russian, the French and the Cuban, emphasizing on the male dancers".

During his first meeting with Cuban students and professional dancers in our country felt "very impressed for their quality, talent, the aesthetic uniformity and the way they perform both the Ballet steps and the professional choreographies."

Baryshnikov was welcomed at the Cuban Ballet School by the Maitre Fernando Alonso -a founder of the school- Dr. De Sáa - its Director at present- and by the all the students and the professors staff.

After exchanging some experiences with them, he attended a class taught to boys at the last year, and the masterful class taught by Professor Plisetsky.

He also attended a rehearsal of the "Prologo" Ballet Company, based on a tragedy by Mac Donald, and met with Alicia Alonso -Director of this company.

The Russian choreographer visited the National Dance Museum, accompanied by Pedro Simón, Director of this institution.

His visit included his attendance to the special performance by the Cuban Ballet Company at the Havanas Grand Theater, and to the Ceremony that inaugurated the 14th International Encounter of Academies for the Teaching of Ballet. He will be staying in Cuba until April 5th.

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