Lots of people make so-called bucket lists. You know – stuff that you want to do before you turn to dust.
I’ve never made a bucket list. I don’t have to. Because I’ve seen the great Mikhail Baryshnikov dance. Twice!
Careful watchers of this space might find this odd, noting my thing for music. (“Isn’t this the chick with the throb for Steely Dan?”) Yes, I’ve been fortunate to have seen nearly all of my favorite music legends (so many of whom are gone now) – Stevie Ray Vaughan, George Jones, Tammy Wynette, Merle Haggard, the original Chicago (see my tribute to their epic guitarist, Terry Kath, here), Muddy Waters, two Kings – Albert and BB, Carlos Santana, Jimmie Vaughan, Jeff Beck, Clapton, Page & Plant (I know; a little heavy on guitarists; sue me – I’m a child of the 70’s and my brother played.)
In the non-musical arena, I got to see my comedy idol – the profane prophet – the great Richard Pryor, and I laughed so hard I could not breathe. He was brilliant.
But not one of them compares to Mikhail Baryshnikov.
Pryor came close. But Misha is Misha. Resplendent. Etherial. Magnifique!
No living equal.
The only time I ever actually cried in public at a performance was in the late 70’s, when I saw Barshnikov dance George Balanchine’s iconic The Prodigal Son. I sat sobbing, frozen in my seat. It was just so damned beautiful.
The second time I saw him was in the early 90’s, with my daughter, when he was performing with his White Oak Dance Project. He danced only as part of the troupe, in three uber-modern ballets. Still, as soon as he came onstage, no one in the theatre could take their eyes from him. Again a sorcerer.
Mikhail Baryshnikov turns 70 on January 27th. His dancing days long over, he now spends his time as steward of Manhattan’s Baryshnikov Arts Center and acting in select projects, as in his current turn in Toronto in the one-man play entitled, Brodsky/Baryshnikov, his tribute to his friend, famed Russian poet Joseph Brodsky. (Note: if you procure for me tickets to this event, I will marry you, or at least provide you an extensive, sexy honeymoon.)
Our lackwitted, Philistine President Trump submitted a budget outline to Congress last March, seeking to eliminate all funding for the National Endowment for the Arts.
Even a reprobate like Lyndon Johnson knew that such thinking was folly:
If any of your true idols still are alive – for God’s sake, go to SEE them. Then you, too, can kick the bucket before you kick the bucket.
Happy Birthday, Misha. You have given me the rare knowledge of what words my last breath will bring:
I saw Baryshnikov!
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