Russian-born ballet legend Mikhail Baryshnikov has received the prestigious Vilcek Prize for his contribution to American culture. The dancer, choreographer and actor was given $100,000 as a lifetime achievement award.
The prize is given annually in the US to immigrants who have made an outstanding long-lasting contribution to American culture and science. The official Vilcek Prize statement named Baryshnikov the greatest dancer of his time.
After training with the Kirov ballet, the artist defected from the Soviet Union in 1974 in search of greater artistic and professional freedom.
Baryshnikov has received numerous honors in the States including an Academy Award nomination and a Golden Globe. The dancer has worked with major ballet companies around the world, including New York City Ballet and the American Ballet Theatre.
Born in the Latvian capital Riga, Baryshnikov is often referred to as one of the greatest ballet dancers of the 20th century alongside Vaslav Nijinsky and Rudolf Nureyev.