Mikhail Baryshnikov's play opens in Berkeley

April 25, 2012 10:51:58 PM PDT
One of the greatest ballet dancers in history, Mikhail Baryshnikov, has a new play at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre, but he won't be dancing. He plays an aging Russian general in a show called "In Paris."

The setting is Paris in the 1930s. Baryshnikov is a Russian ex-general who falls in love with a young Russian waitress.

"It's a classic kind of case. It's a short and kind of tragic love affair, based on a short story," said Baryshnikov.

The staging is unique, poetic. There is music and words in Russian and French.

"The subtitles are done in very a very imaginative way. There's not that much text," said Baryshnikov.

It was his dancing that electrified the world in the most celebrated of ballets, then a film career. He was nominated for an Oscar in his first film, "The Turning Point" and who can forget "White Nights."

"To be creative artist, you have to push yourself into the unknown territories," said Baryshnikov. "That's what art is about."

He has done it all, TV, variety, a recurring role on "Sex and The City," and he has a foundation in New York where he mentors new talent.

"The goal of it to stir up interest in the arts and to be open for young people building their careers," said Baryshnikov.

It has been an extraordinary career, but Baryshnikov says he doesn't have time to look back.

"It's done. There's no time to think about it," said Baryshnikov.

He believes life can't be cluttered with the past.

"The less you have, the clearer your mind," said Baryshnikov.

He does dance just a little "In Paris' and there is a dance project in the future. "In Paris" plays through May 13th at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre.

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