Born in Latvia on January 27, 1948. He began to study dance at the age of 11. He joined the Mariinsky Ballet in 1967. Mikhail Baryshnikov came to the United States in 1974, leaping to freedom from the renowned Kirov Ballet. He quickly became an international ballet sensation, performing with all the major companies, particularly the American Ballet Theatre, eventually becoming the company's artistic director for nearly a decade. During a brief hiatus from ABT, Baryshnikov performed with the New York City Ballet under George Balanchine. Baryshnikov is renowned for his unparalleled technique as well as his ability to perform both modern and classical works.