Mikhail Baryshnikov Opens New Show at Dellal Center - of His Photos

Better knows as a ballet star, Baryshnikov has been using his lens to document modern, classical and contemporary dance for about 12 years.

Mikhail Baryshnikov, ballet superstar of the 1970s, held a press conference Tuesday at Tel Aviv's Suzanne Dellal Center to launch his exhibit of photographs of dancers, titled "Dance My Way," which opens there on Wednesday.

Baryshnikov, who began his photographic career about 12 years ago, uses his lens to document modern, classical and contemporary dance. During a visit last year to the Batsheva Dance Company's studio, he also captured works by Israeli choreographers including Yasmeen Godder, Sharon Eyal and Ohad Naharin.

Baryshnikov said he began taking pictures of his family and of landscapes, but then began traveling with his camera and capturing different cultures, for example street dancing in the Dominican Republic. He then began photographing dancers, including a stint traveling with Merce Cunningham's company, as "a fly on the wall" two years before Cunningham died.

Baryshnikov, 64, who is making his third visit to Israel, says choreographers trust him not to do anything stupid with his camera, but added that he considers himself only average technically. He called Gadi Dagon, house photographer for Batsheva, a better photographer than he.

Baryshnikov said his point of view as a photographer was like that of a painter, adding that he drew his inspiration from Francis Bacon and Picasso. He defined his work as "abstract-decorative," saying he dedicates it to the dancers who inspire him.

The exhibition will close on Saturday with an auction of the photographs, all proceeds going to the Suzanne Dellal Center. Baryshnikov will be taking his exhibit to Bogota, Colombia in April and to Venice this summer.

Daniel Tchetchik