Brodsky/Baryshnikov is a one-man show, performed by legendary dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov, based on the poems of Nobel laureate Joseph Brodsky. The production is an emotional journey deep into the poet’s visceral and complex compositions. Baryshnikov walks onto the stage unmasked and unguarded and tells us the story of their 22-year friendship that began in 1972 in an unnerving expose.
Brodsky/Baryshnikov is Baryshnikov’s nostalgic tribute to his once dear friend.
We managed to catch up with Mikhail Baryshnikov as he started his London performances and spoke about this new show:-
Why are Brodsky’s poems so important to you?
It was more than 50 years ago when I first read Joseph Brodsky’s poems and they hit me hard. Truth and grace in words and his works are extraordinarily relevant to the present. I try to be truthful to myself and to be as truthful as I can to my friend. Yes, it’s a responsibility, but there’s great joy there.
How did your friendship with Brodsky influence you over the years?
Joseph Brodsky had a momentous impact on me – we talked to each other every week over our twenty odd years of friendship. I knew some of his poetry and truly admired him as a poet. There is no doubt that he is one of the few poets – perhaps the only – from the Soviet generation on par with the “magnificent four” of the pre-revolutionary one.
How does your talent and background as a dancer inform this show?
In Brodsky/Baryshnikov there’s no dance per se, but there’s a lot of body language so that was the bridge to bring my dance background into the drama of the play. That was, in fact, a requirement of the director, but I use the same instincts so I can’t really make a distinction between the two.
What is lost for non-Russian speakers who read Brodsky only in English translation?
Brodsky/Baryshnikov is a conversation between me and a person in the past so the language the audience speaks is unimportant. We have an excellent translation by Jamey Gambrell, a former student of Joseph’s. In my opinion, she captures his humour, wit, and wisdom so the play is accessible to everyone.
What do you hope English-speaking audiences will enjoy and take away from this show?
The play is an intimate experience – a conversation between me, and my beloved friend – and so I hope they can feel included in that intimacy.
Brodsky/Baryshnikov plays at the Apollo Theatre from 3 – 7 May 2017