#TBT: Mikhail Baryshnikov in "Fancy Free" (1981)

April 14, 2021

In Jerome Robbins’s 1944 ballet Fancy Free, three sailors on leave spend the day at a bar, attempting to woo two young women by out-dancing and out-charming one another. In this clip from 1981, Mikhail Baryshnikov, who was then both the artistic director of American Ballet Theatre and a leading performer with the company, pulls out all the stops to win the ladies’ affections.

Impish as ever, Baryshnikov begins his solo by flashing a debonair smile. His movements rock back and forth in time with the jazzy waltz; clearly this sailor hasn’t found his land legs yet. He dances with a loose, grounded swagger, tossing in cheeky heel pops and hip thrusts, and he cooly demonstrates his control with slow, drifty pirouettes. Even in the faster sections, he manages to make double tours look nonchalant. After a suspended attitude turn, he ends the variation by throwing himself at the lady’s feet. While she and his mates may be unimpressed, he’s clearly won over the crowd! Happy #ThrowbackThursday!