Updated: Ballet dancer, actor Baryshnikov named this year’s commencement speaker

Jillian Sandler, Campus Editor

World-renowned ballet dancer and Emmy-winning actor Mikhail Baryshnikov will give the main address and receive an honorary degree at Northwestern’s 155th commencement, according to a University news release.

Baryshnikov, born in Latvia to Russian parents, has experienced much success on both the screen and stage.

Baryshnikov has made a name for himself in the ballet scene. He joined New York City Ballet in 1979 and became the artistic director for American Ballet Theatre in 1980. Baryshnikov then founded the White Oak Dance Project in 1990 with choreographer Mark Morris and introduced modern dance to people around the world. In 2005, he founded Baryshnikov Arts Center, which consists of four large studios in New York and attracts more than 22,000 audience members every year, the release said.

He was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in 1977 for his performance in “The Turning Point” and received an Emmy in 1980 for his work in “Baryshnikov on Broadway” with Liza Minelli. Baryshnikov also appeared on the last season of “Sex and the City” as the love interest of Sarah Jessica Parker’s character, Carrie Bradshaw.

Baryshnikov has received several awards for his work, including one in 2000 from the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, according to the release. He was also given the National Medal of Arts the same year and received the University Chubb Fellowship for 2003-2004 and the Jerome Robbins Award in 2005. He was named an Officer of the French Legion of Honor in 2010, according to the release.

Baryshnikov’s daughter, Anna, is a junior in the School of Communication. She said she has known her father was slated to speak for a while and is looking forward to his speech.

“I’m really proud of him for going through with it and I’m excited to see what he comes up with,” she said.

The 2013 commencement ceremony will be held at 9:30 a.m. June 21 at Ryan Field.

— Jillian Sandler

Note: This post has been updated with additional information and comment from Anna Baryshnikov.

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