BARYSHNIKOV BY THE BOOK: On Wednesday night, an intimate crowd had gathered to sip vodka served neat on the top floor of the Baryshnikov Arts Center near New York’s Times Square. It was a fitting beverage for a book party focused on one of the most influential Russian ballet dancers of the 20th century, the late Irina Baronova. The event was being thrown by another Russian dance legend, Mikhail Baryshnikov.
The photo-heavy tome, “Irina Baronova and the Ballets Russes de Monte Carlo,” was written and compiled by Baronova’s daughter Victoria Tennant. “I had all of my mother’s papers after she died, and I found in the boxes over 2,000 vintage photographs, letters going back to 1926,” she said. Many of those records were later donated to the New York Public Library. “Sitting on the floor with all of these photos around me I thought: this is a life in pictures. I was thinking of it more like a family album.”
“I knew Victoria’s mother, maybe not very well, but we were friends,” the effervescent but press-shy Baryshnikov explained, his gaze cast downward. “Everything about [Baronova], from her early years and working with all these people, from [George] Balanchine to [Margot] Fonteyn… she was a extraordinary woman. It’s an extraordinary time in history and I’m glad to be a part of it.” But he wasn’t as glad about the photo of himself included in the book. “The only thing I don’t like about this book is my fault, in the end,” he later told the crowd. “I look like a drunken sailor.”