Photo by Martha Swope, courtesy of Billy Rose Theatre Division, the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts

Mikhail Nikolaevitch Baryshnikov is one of the greatest male ballet dancers of all time, ranked with Vaslav Nijinsky and Rudolf Nureyev. Hailed for his performances with American Ballet Theatre in the 1970s and '80s, Baryshnikov has had a wide-ranging career, spanning the realms of choreography, performance, direction, film, television and theater.

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The main thing to understand here is that Mikhail Baryshnikov can do no wrong. I don’t think I’m being overly effusive when I say that everything he touches turns to gold. I’m going to purchase the entire Rag & Bone winter collection because of this video, and it’s a men’s line.

Don’t misunderstand–the young king of Memphis jookin’ is fantastic in the clothing company’s new film. It's more his venue, really, and Lil Buck does his thing, moving like he has no bones and doesn’t need to abide by gravity’s rules. But the first time I watched, I missed some of Buck’s best choreography because I was too busy watching 67-year-old Misha sitting in a chair. That’s how well this man commands his audience.

Baryshnikov is downright goofy for much of the video. He practices glides and some mild popping, presenting more of a tipsy, Jack-Sparrow swagger than street swagger. But he's so self-aware that he pulls it off. And when he stares into the camera with that disgruntled Russian look of his, you can't help but stare back.

When they move together, the two men have crazy performing chemistry. The best part is just past the two-minute mark, when they cross into each other’s space for the first time and start really letting loose.

In the end, the scene transitions to a theatrical setting with the dancers seated at a chessboard. Baryshnikov ends it with a mic-drop moment, as if to say, “You may be the rising star, but I’m the living legend.” And Lil Buck doesn’t seem to have a problem with that.


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