Mikhail Baryshnikov Quotes

It’s time to relax and be inspired by one of 20th’s century’s greatest male ballet dancers: Mikhail Baryshnikov and a few of his best quotes.

But before we jump, or should I say, grand jeté to some very insightful Mikhail Baryshnikov quotes, lets take a quick look into this ballet star’s bio:

Mikhail Baryshikov in White Nights, 1985

Mikhail Baryshikov in White Nights, 1985

“Misha” is a Russian American dancer, choreographer, and actor, often cited alongside Vaslav Nijinsky and Rudolf Nureyev as one of the greatest ballet dancers in history.

Born to Russian parents in Riga, now in independent Latvia, Baryshnikov began his ballet studies there in 1960. In 1964, he entered the Vaganova School, in what was then Leningrad (now St. Petersburg).

While still in the Soviet Union, he was called by New York Times critic Clive Barnes “the most perfect dancer I have ever seen.”

On June 29, 1974, while on tour in Canada with the Bolshoi Ballet, Baryshnikov defected, requesting political asylum in Toronto, and joined the Royal Winnipeg Ballet. His first televised performance after coming out of temporary seclusion in Canada was with the National Ballet of Canada in La Sylphide. He then went on to the United States.

From 1974 to 1978, he was principal dancer with the American Ballet Theatre (ABT). He also worked with the New York City Ballet, with George Balanchine and as a regular guest artist with the Royal Ballet. He also toured with ballet and modern dance companies around the world for fifteen months.

He returned to ABT in 1980 as dancer and artistic director, a position he held for a decade. On July 3, 1986, he became a naturalized citizen of the United States. From 1990 to 2002, Baryshnikov was artistic director of the White Oak Dance Project, a touring company he co-founded with Mark Morris. In 2003, he won the Prix Benois de la Danse for lifetime achievement. In 2005 he launched the Baryshnikov Arts Center in New York.

Original source wikipedia.org.

His approach to dancing, clearly reflected in the following quotes, is what helped him soar to the top.

Here is one of my favorite Mikhail Baryshnikov quotes, one we can all learn from:

I do not try to dance better than anyone else. I only try to dance better than myself.

Here’s one I can really relate to:

Dancing is my obsession. My life.

One more:

Every ballet, whether or not successful artistically or with the public, has given me something important.

For more quotes, click here.
What do you think of these Mikhail Baryshnikov quotes, did you enjoy them? If you liked his quotes, you’re going to love this video with Mr. Baryshnikov, co-starring in the movie White Nights (1985, with Gregory Hines) performing no less that 11 pirouettes. Yes, you read correctly, ELEVEN jaw dropping turns.


Video courtesy of YouTube.com.

How about that? Did Misha live up to his quote above? Did he compete with himself? From one pirouette to two…to eleven! Eleven pirouettes, eleven rubles… ;-)

Stay tuned for more Mikhail Baryshnikov quotes and more about his compelling life story.

Remember to “Share” and “Like” us below and spread these inspiring quotes.

About Romy Macias, Senior Editor

Romy danced with the Ballet Clasico de Queretaro Fernando Jhones for 10 years having reached 1st soloist position. She presently takes on character roles and teaches at the company's junior academy. This site is a testament to her passion for classical ballet. You're invited to be part of our community and join in the joy for this amazing art form.


  1. Rebecca says:

    Ballet is so absolutely beautiful I remember watching both this movie as well as Baryshnikov dance live while in Toronto when he came over with the Russian Ballet. I remember the stink that happened when he defected as well. Times have so changed it is amazing.

  2. Wow! Loved the video. I take it a ruble is a lot of money ;) And this quote: I do not try to dance better than anyone else. I only try to dance better than myself. Great story Romy!

  3. Elyn says:

    Yes – I liked this one too:
    I do not try to dance better than anyone else. I only try to dance better than myself.

    He is one smart man!

  4. Peter Gehr says:

    Great to read these quotes showing the passion of these dancers. Thanks for posting.

  5. Donna says:

    Love the quotes – and the video. Baryshnikov was a pioneer in dance, but also in bringing ballet into the public eye in new ways – which I think helped in expanding the audience in the US.

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