Mikhail Baryshnikov announced as USC Kaufman’s first-ever commencement speaker
October 24, 2018
Internationally-acclaimed dancer, and Academy Award and Tony Award nominee, Mikhail Baryshnikov will deliver the commencement address at the first graduation ceremony of the University of Southern California’s Glorya Kaufman School of Dance. The ceremony will take place at USC’s University Park Campus on Friday, May 10, 2019.
Considered one of the greatest dancers of our time, Baryshnikov began his career with the Kirov Ballet in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg). He was a principal dancer at New York City Ballet, as well as the American Ballet Theatre, where he was later appointed artistic director. In addition, Baryshnikov was director and dancer of the White Oak Dance Project, which he co-founded with choreographer Mark Morris.
As an actor he has performed widely on- and off-Broadway, as well as in television and film, receiving a Tony Award nomination and a Drama Desk Award for Metamorphosis, and an Academy Award nomination for The Turning Point.
In 2005, he launched Baryshnikov Arts Center (BAC) in New York City, a creative space for presenting and nurturing multidisciplinary artists from around the globe. Among Baryshnikov’s many awards are the Kennedy Center Honors, the National Medal of Honor, the Commonwealth Award, the Chubb Fellowship, the Jerome Robbins Award, and the 2012 Vilcek Award. In 2010, he was given the rank of Officer of the French Legion of Honor, and in 2017 he received Japan’s prestigious Praemium Imperiale International Arts Award in Theatre/Film.
“We are thrilled to announce Mikhail Baryshnikov as the first commencement speaker in the history of USC Kaufman,” said Dean Robert Cutietta. “This is an important milestone for the School of Dance and what better way to mark this occasion than with an accomplished artist like Mikhail Baryshnikov. I am so pleased that our young dancers will have the chance to hear from this progressive trailblazer next year.”
According to Vice Dean and Director Jodie Gates, “Mikhail Baryshnikov is an iconic figure in the dance world. With his incredibly diverse and dynamic career, he is the definition of a multidisciplinary artist and embodies the model of hybridity that we strive for at USC Kaufman every day. Through our innovative approach to dance education, we hope to not only develop artists, but also thought leaders, who like Mikhail, have the ability to move between forms and adapt to the ever-changing dance industry.”
“For me it comes full circle that Misha will be the first commencement speaker for the USC Glorya Kaufman School of Dance as he was my professional dance mentor, first with Twyla Tharp, then with the American Ballet Theatre, and with his own White Oak Dance Project,” said Jamie Bishton, USC Kaufman’s newest Board of Councilors member and a friend of Baryshnikov. “Just as his incredible gifts to the arts grew and continue to grow over the course of decades, the ripples of this first graduating class will be felt for generations to come. The honor of having him speak to USC Kaufman’s first graduating class, knowing that the world’s preeminent dancer and artist is watching them as they set out on their own careers, will serve to inspire the graduates to follow his lead and make their own incredible marks on the world of dance.”
About Mikhail Baryshnikov
Born 1948 in Riga, Latvia, Mikhail Baryshnikov is considered one of the greatest dancers of our time. After commencing his career with the Kirov Ballet in Leningrad, he came to the West in 1974, settling in New York City as principal dancer with American Ballet Theatre (ABT). In 1979 he joined New York City Ballet, where he worked with George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins. A year later he was appointed artistic director of ABT where, for the next decade, he introduced a new generation of dancers and choreographers. From 1990-2002, Baryshnikov was director and dancer of the White Oak Dance Project, which he and choreographer Mark Morris co-founded to expand the repertoire and visibility of American modern dance.
As an actor he has performed widely on- and off-Broadway, as well as in television and film, receiving a Tony Award nomination and a Drama Desk Award for Metamorphosis, and an Academy Award nomination for The Turning Point. Other productions include Forbidden Christmas or The Doctor and the Patient, Beckett Shorts, In Paris, Man in a Case, The Old Woman and Letter to a Man. He is currently appearing in a solo theatrical production, Brodsky/Baryshnikov, directed by Alvis Hermanis.
In 2005, he launched Baryshnikov Arts Center (BAC) in New York City, a creative space for presenting and nurturing multidisciplinary artists from around the globe. Under his leadership as artistic director, BAC’s programs have grown to serve more than 700 artists and 22,000 audience members annually. Among Baryshnikov’s many awards are the Kennedy Center Honors, the National Medal of Honor, the Commonwealth Award, the Chubb Fellowship, the Jerome Robbins Award, and the 2012 Vilcek Award. In 2010, he was given the rank of Officer of the French Legion of Honor, and in 2017 he received Japan’s prestigious Praemium Imperiale International Arts Award in Theatre/Film.
About the USC Glorya Kaufman School of Dance
Founded in 2012 by a transformational gift from visionary philanthropist Glorya Kaufman, the University of Southern California created its sixth art school and, at that time, its first new school in nearly 40 years. The USC Glorya Kaufman School of Dance expands upon USC’s unique signature as a world-class research institution with a deep commitment to the arts. With its enterprising vision for arts education, USC Kaufman is at the forefront of developing dancers, choreographers and dance leaders for the future.
The exciting opportunity to create a new school brought the chance to rethink the professional degree for the 21st century and the role of a dance school within the greater national ecology. To fulfill this monumental intention, USC Kaufman envisioned a new model of dance education – a hybrid and collaborative approach expressed in studio practice, music, choreography, performance, new media and scholarship, where artistic preeminence is combined with thoughtful industry access. USC Kaufman’s degree program embraces the artistic rigor of conservatory dance instruction with unparalleled academic opportunity offered by one of the world’s leading universities to shape the next generation of dance leaders who are connected to the world-at-large.
Over the course of four years, USC Kaufman BFA students receive foundational insight, intellectual and artistic development through their rigorous work with faculty and artists in residence. They also acquire a robust performance repertory including masterworks by George Balanchine, William Forsythe and Martha Graham, as well as exposure to world-renowned practicing artists and innovative dancemakers such as Alejandro Cerrudo, Crystal Pite and Dwight Rhoden.