New York University President John Sexton today bestowed an honorary doctorate on the renowned dancer and actor Mikhail Baryshnikov at NYU’s 174th Commencement Exercises in Washington Square Park. Some 19,000 graduates, faculty, staff, and guests attended the morning ceremony.
The following citation was read in conferring the Doctor of Fine Arts degree, honoris causa, on Mikhail Baryshnikov:
“Mikhail Baryshnikov-the world’s greatest living dancer, you began the study of ballet in Riga at age nine and as a teenager entered the school of the Kirov Ballet-a precocious talent, a dancer of classical purity and exquisite presence. As artistic director of the American Ballet Theatre, you nurtured a new generation of dancers and choreographers. You have danced more than one hundred different works on the world’s greatest stages even as its foremost choreographers have created works especially for you. An acclaimed actor, you have starred in five films, including The Turning Point, in three Emmy award-winning specials on television, on Broadway in “Metamorphosis”-and of course- as Aleksandr Petrovsky in Sex and the City! You have said that what you like most is to be part of something which moves the history of theater or dance forward. Such was your White Oak Dance Project, where you expanded the repertoire of American modern dance. And such is the magnificent Baryshnikov Arts Center, where you have given artists both a home and a creative laboratory in which to work with mentors of dance, theater, film, lighting, and costume design, and where you have established, with the Tisch School of the Arts, a fellowship program for recent graduates.
“Mikhail Baryshnikov-a global artist of virtuosity and genius, you and your Center are a powerful cultural catalyst to ensure New York City’s preeminence in the arts. By virtue of the authority vested in me by New York University, I am pleased to confer upon you the degree of Doctor of Fine Arts, honoris causa.”