Home » History » Going Home Again – What Pegman Saw

Going Home Again – What Pegman Saw

This week Pegman takes us to the capital of Latvia, in Riga’s Old Town. Your mission is to write up 150 words inspired by the location. Feel free to use the image supplied, or venture around Riga for something that inspires you. You may write fact or fiction, poetry or prose. The only only requirement is to keep your piece at 150 words or less, as a consideration to others.

Once your piece is polished, share it with others using the linkup below. Reading and commenting is part of the fun!

Thank you Karen and Josh for giving us the opportunity to go digging about places we might not know at all. It makes this challenge all the more worthwhile!

©Reinis Hofmanis

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Going Home Again

The three blocks from the O’Keefe Centre in Toronto to the waiting car were the longest Misha had ever run. He could feel the fear of missing his chance burn his throat, leaving an acrid taste on his tongue. He could not know the Soviet Union would respond so calmly to his defection or that his family would not suffer repercussions for his betrayal.

Born in Riga, Latvia in 1948, he took his first ballet lesson at eleven, and was called to the Kirov ballet by nineteen. His talents dazzled audiences the world over and he soon felt stifled artistically.  His defection was never about politics.  “I am individualist and there it is a crime,” he was quoted as saying.

In 2017, forty-three years after that run for freedom, Mikhail Baryshnikov was invited back to his now independent birthplace and granted citizenship.

“I am no longer an outsider. I feel I belong.”

65 thoughts on “Going Home Again – What Pegman Saw

  1. A bit of dazzling happiness to make my day! Thanks, Dale. I remember when he used to appear on TV with Margot Fonteyn. Just watching this short clip, gives you an idea of what an incredible dancer he was. When our kids were little we recorded the PBS Nutcracker that he was in, and we used to watch it with them.


  2. Dear Dale,

    I’ll echo Na’ama’s “wow!” She took the word right from under my fingers. Beautifully written…a story after my own heart, not to mention a performer after it as well. Lovely, my friend. ❤

    Shalom and lotsa hugs en pointe,


    Liked by 1 person

  3. Q,

    This gave me goosebumps. Mikhail is one of those transcendent figures, like Phillipe Petit. They both taught us how to let our dreams take flight. The world is a better place because of peeps like these.

    I remember seeing him play opposite Gregory Hines in “White Nights” and being wowed. I had been ‘dragged’ to see it by my girlfriend, but I ended up loving it. Because there was a presence to him, a different kind of feeling he brought. His talent was a gift, but his aura was definitely a forever kind of thing.

    And you personalized him, here. So beautifully.

    Like I said, goosebumps.


    Liked by 1 person

    • B,

      This is such a great comment/compliment. He is. His presence is huge for such a small guy (5’5″).

      I LOVED “White Nights” and felt it truly brought his existence to the masses who would normally diss ballet, not knowing or wanting to know what it is. It definitely is a forever kind of aura. Can you believe he is 71 now?

      So, so, so happy you feel I managed to personalize him!

      Huge smiles on my end.


      Liked by 1 person

  4. An excellent example of how true artstry trumps mundane issues like nationalistic loyalty. What an amazing dancer, it’s a thrill to see him in action! And I never realized where he was from, or his background: thanks for the history lesson.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I don‘t know why Itook such an interest in him (wahaaaay before internet) but I always did. He was such an „outsider“ in so many ways. Beautifully written and BRAVO for being able to bring his story home in such short form. Bisous

    Liked by 1 person

    • You did because his charisma is just that strong. He is one of those bigger-than-life people.
      Thank you so much, Kiki.
      Suis ravie que tu aimes ma petite histoire.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. well done, Dale.
    you moved through a timeline in this short piece – as we went from Misha running to not be late to then the return home and granted citizenship – wow – all in 150 words.

    and loved the way the first paragraph set this all up – especially the first three sentences – they had a great rhythm with words

    ” run” had that bit of rhyme with “tongue” and even “burn” added to it

    Liked by 1 person

      • well that reminds me that writers do what painters and drawers often do – they add things without meaning to –
        it is part of their honed skill and essence – and so for example – breaking down a painting we might mention the artist used space for the rule of thirds succinctly (so the eye flows rather than bounces with maybe having a bull’s eye subject) – and then we would also say maybe their color use was such and such – and the painter would say – they never thought about nay of it – well some plan it out – but often – it is doing and practicing that gives flow so outcome just happens – which I know you know and well – but I am just realizing it more and more with writing – and I also see that these weekly challenges are likely little writing groups – 🙂
        and so for the rest of the year I am gaping to try and do some weekly fiction – to hone more – and have to buckle down to do it or I will not get it done – ya know ? but I am the better for it…

        Liked by 1 person

  7. one more comment to share – a couple of years ago I wrote a post called “plantation, Florida 1993” because I spent the summer 93 in that little area outside of Miami.
    and when I was looking stuff up – turns out – our dear Baryshnikov, or Misha as you astutely added his nickname – well he had a photo shoot in plantation florida that summer. Now yes- chances are our paths crossed the week he was there doing his photo shoots –
    but maybe not – and either way – it is just cool and I might follow up with the plantation fl 1993 with a chapter in a book someday (or not…)

    Liked by 1 person

      • wel the problem is I have too many inspired ideas – and not enough time to get at them – and also – not sure every book idea is really going to make a good book – but I guess it depends on the type of book we want to deliver.
        and while I was drafting the plantation Florida post – I had a few rabbit trails – and one of them was reading about some young adults who died of opioids – (it was a few years ago before I really knew about the epidemic) and so I skimmed some of the pages where you could light a candle – and it was moving. anyhow, – a few of the young adults were from plantation and that was how the keywords connected.
        getting back to my post – my nephew was visiting with us that summer and guess what – shortly after I made that post – he passed away in update New York from an opioid overdose.
        it was weird – and this might seem strange to some people – but I feel like God was preparing me for what was to come. ugh –
        anyhow, I do see some burning embers with that idea – fingers crossed I will know when to tackle it….

        Liked by 1 person

        • Life is funny like that. Things seem to happen, yes in preparation.
          Before my son died, I had a vision, like a dream, where I saw his coffin and people around. I always figured it was to help me deal with what lay ahead.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Oh dale – that vision is similar to what I felt my rabbit trail was.
            And sorry again for the loss of your son –
            Also – enjoyed comment chatting this evening – was nice to catch up a bit
            😉 and thanks again for featuring such an iconic dancer for your fiction – it was really good

            Liked by 1 person

          • I so hear you. And I just realised I didn’t offer my own condolences to you for the loss of your nephew. Such a sad thing.
            Yes, it was lovely and is now 2 a.m.
            I’m so glad you enjoyed my take.


  8. Love the way you structured this story, with the nickname Misha obscuring his real identity. The double meaning of the phrase, saying this was the longest run of his life also misdirects us, as to his athletic ability. Reading it the second time gives you the delicious feeling of being in on a secret.
    I did not know he was from Latvia originally nor that he defected in Toronto. Great research, nice visuals and strategic presentation. I really liked this!


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