Mikhail Baryshnikov and Rudolf Nureyev danced together in public for the first time in almost a decade Tuesday night at a Metropolitan Opera House gala.
Streamers of red, white and blue balloons--the colors of both France and the United States--decorated the opera house as the Paris Opera Ballet and the American Ballet Theater performed.
Nureyev and Baryshnikov, who defected to the West from the Soviet Union in 1961 and 1974 respectively, joined forces at a benefit to raise funds for the Met, the Parisian ballet and ABT.
Nureyev, 48, is director of the Paris Opera Ballet and Baryshnikov, 38, is artistic director of ABT.
Baryshnikov was among 292 people sworn in as U.S. citizens by Chief Justice Warren E. Burger on Ellis Island on July 3 during the relighting ceremony for the Statue of Liberty. When asked Tuesday night how he felt about being an American citizen, Baryshnikov said: "I feel wonderful."
First Lady Attends
Tuesday's gala, attended by First Lady Nancy Reagan, was held between runs by the ABT and the Paris Opera Ballet at the Met. Mrs. Reagan went backstage before the performance to greet the two dancers, who were both trained at the Kirov Ballet in Leningrad.
They last danced together in Paul Taylor's "From Sea to Shining Sea" almost 10 years ago in New York.
Opera singer Martina Arroyo sang the American and French national anthems, and veteran performer Gene Kelly opened the show by saying: "On with the dance!"
Nureyev and Baryshnikov danced with Leslie Caron in a medley of songs connected with Caron's movie career, including bits from "Gigi," "Fanny," "An American in Paris" and "Lili."
Other highlights included a version of Twyla Tharp's "Push Comes to Shove" performed by Baryshnikov with Nureyev appearing on stage at the end; and Act 3 of "Raymonda," with Nureyev dancing to his own choreography.