Mikhail Baryshnikov Becomes Nijinsky in Robert Wilson's "Letter to a Man"

Baryshnikov in Letter to a Man. Photo by Lucie Jansch, Courtesy Brooklyn Academy of Music.

Adding another milestone to his already untouchable career, Mikhail Baryshnikov will take on the role of iconic ballet dancer Vaslav Nijinsky in director Robert Wilson's one-man show, Letter to a Man. The work had its premiere in Italy in 2015 and had its U.S. debut as part of the Brooklyn Academy of Music's Next Wave Festival on October 15. The show completes its New York run on October 30.


Though Baryshnikov and Nijinsky were ballet titans of their respective generations, Letter to a Man is theater, not dance. And Wilson's vision doesn't result in a literal biography of the troubled danseur. Rather, it's an interpretation of the diaries Nijinsky kept while he suffered from schizophrenia. The play's title is from a letter written from Nijinsky to his former lover and Ballets Russes founder Sergei Diaghilev—when their relationship was such that Nijinsky wouldn't even say his name.

The play will also tour to University of California, Berkeley, November 10–13; and University of California, Los Angeles, November 18–19.

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