On July 24, 1983, Mikhail Baryshnikov danced on the stage of Robinson Center under the auspices of Ballet Arkansas. Nearing the end of his dancing career with American Ballet Theatre, he was leading a summer tour of the Southeast and Midwest US.
In the early spring of 1983, Ballet Arkansas was contacted to see if they would be interested in having him perform in Little Rock. (The $60,000 sponsorship was paid completely by the ARKANSAS DEMOCRAT.) The performance was announced in April with tickets going on sale shortly thereafter.
Following Baryshnikov’s performance, he and his fellow dancers attended a reception at the Old State House Museum which was hosted by Governor and Mrs. Bill Clinton.
After dancing with the Mariinsky Ballet for several years, he defected to Canada while the ballet was performing there in 1974. He later came to the US to dance with American Ballet Theatre and later New York City Ballet. He returned to ABT in 1980 to take on the role of Artistic Director and continue dancing. It was in this capacity that he visited Little Rock.
He received a 1977 Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor for his role in the ballet-themed film The Turning Point.
Baryshnikov would later be welcomed by the Clintons to the White House when he received a 2000 Kennedy Center Honors.