Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Baryshnikov to Perform at Ringling Festival

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Baryshnikov to Perform at Ringling Festival

Article excerpt

'A WOODEN TREE': Ballet superstar is one of eight dancers in headlining act


Don't have your tickets yet for next week's headliners at the 2012 Ringling International Arts Festival?

By the time you read this, you may be out of luck. In a previously undisclosed bonus, organizers announced Tuesday that Mikhail Baryshnikov -- whose Baryshnikov Arts Center co-produces the festival and who last performed at RIAF in 2010 -- will perform with the featured Mark Morris Dance Group in Morris's newest work, "A Wooden Tree."

Baryshnikov, 64, last appeared at the 2010 RIAF in three sold- out performances of a commissioned work with choreographer David Neumann called "Solos with Mikhail Baryshnikov and David Neumann." While the Russian-born ballet star was here for last year's festival, he did not perform, saying he preferred to see and enjoy the event without the demands of performing.

Although MMDG has been advertised as the featured performer at this year's festival from the earliest lineup announcements, no previous mention had been made of Baryshnikov's appearance. According to Morris, who was reached just before getting on a plane to his hometown of Seattle where "A Wooden Tree" will have its world premiere this weekend, the timing was "no accident."

"I know full well why we didn't announce it right away," said the heralded contemporary choreographer. "I would rather people not be able to get in than to go crazy expecting to see Mr. Baryshnikov do a classical ballet."

The new work is set to the recorded music and words of Scottish author and humorist Ivon Cutler -- a rarity for Morris, who generally sets his work to live music. Baryshnikov is one of eight artists in the piece and Morris said "he fits right in with my wonderful dancers," most of whom had never worked with the iconic ballet figure before.

Morris and Baryshnikov have been friends and collaborators for 30 years. Since 2010, Baryshnikov has been developing and performing in "In Paris," a theater work that toured the U. S. and Europe. But, missing performing in more movement-based work, he let Morris know that he would welcome an opportunity to work together again. …

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