Baryshnikov in Tel Aviv

Mikhail Baryshnikov and Dmitry Krymov at Suzanne Dellal Centre, Tel Aviv/Photo: Ayelet Dekel

Baryshnikov is in Tel Aviv and there is an air of excitement in anticipation of his performance in Dmitry Krymov’s stage adaptation of Nobel Laureate Ivan Bunin’s (1870 – 1953) short story In Paris. The play will be performed in Russian with Hebrew subtitles at the Suzanne Dellal Theatre from November 15 – 21, 2011.

Mikhail Baryshnikov and Dmitry Krymov met the Israeli press this morning at the Suzanne Dellal Centre, responding with warmth and humor to the flurry of questions. Baryshnikov made a memorable appearance on the Israeli stage last year in his performance with Ana Laguna, this time however, he will be appearing onstage as an actor rather than a dancer. Although there is a small dance segment at the end of the play, Baryshnikov does not see it as a dance number, but rather an integral part of the play as a whole, and said, “It’s just a minute and a few seconds. This is not a conventional play. Krymov works with dance, movement, music and song; they are part of his palette as an artist.”

Comparing In Paris to his duet with Ana Laguna in a work by Mats Ek, Baryshnikov said, “It’s not that far apart. When I’m onstage I don’t think about dancing or acting. I do not know who the hell I am…I’m motivated by my instincts and my partners onstage.”

Krymov has adapted and developed Bunin’s very short (just a few pages) story to a one hour and thirty minute play, in which Baryshnikov will star alongside Anna Sinyakina as two Russian immigrants who meet in Paris. Krymov said, “Our idea was to take a small story and give it a powerful stage presence. It takes place in the ‘30s, a small immigrant, a man thrown out of his country, falls in love with a waitress in a dingy restaurant. God does not even give them this possibility of happiness, the man dies after two weeks.” Baryshnikov recalls meeting Russian immigrants in Paris in the 1970s, and said, “I remember the say they spoke and stood,” and recalled seeing “tristesse in their eyes.” However, Baryshnikov said, “I do not think this performance is about people lost in one country or another, I think it is a more internal loneliness…it’s not a story about immigrants, it’s a story about people that resonates in every language.”

Saying that he is “still kind of a dancer who will always be a dancer” Baryshnikov spoke of the importance of art recalling that on his performing tours around the world “I went to see everything.” He said, “It’s no secret that introducing young people to art is the most essential task for parents and schools,” and referring to a comment made by Joseph Brodsky, he said “instead of grilling politicians about the economy and other issues, we were to say let’s talk about Dostoevsky, Zola, Stendhal or Dickens, it will be faster to understand who is who, and who will govern better. I think it is an interesting proposition.”

Mikhail Baryshnikov/Photo: Ayelet Dekel

Baryshnikov spoke of his visit to Jerusalem, saying that “it was one of the most memorable experiences of my life; I’m telling you from the bottom of my heart. I understood the expression ‘a city where the sky meets the earth and stone.” Yet he declined to comment on political issues, and said, “I’m not taking sides in any conflict. Art should heal and not divide. I would not give advice to any person; I don’t live in Israel and am not entitled. I deeply admire this country and love these people.” Recalling his first visit to Jerusalem 17 years ago, Baryshnikov said, “I think the city belongs to all of us all around the world. It’s a privilege to be in Jerusalem and walk on those stones.”

In Paris will show at the Suzanne Dellal Centre (5 Yechieli St, Neve Tzedek, Tel Aviv) from November 15 – 21:
•    Tuesday, November 15th, 21:00
•    Wednesday, November 16th, 21:00
•    Thursday, November 17th, 21:00
•    Saturday, November 19th, 12:00 AND 21:00
•    Sunday, November 20th, 21:00
•    Monday, November 21th, 17:00 AND 21:00
Suzanne Dellal Centre: or 03-5105666