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A dancer's grand leap to freedom; Baryshnikov: From Russia to the West, by Gennady Smakov. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux Inc. 244 pp. $9.95.

Accompanied by rare photographs, Smakov's narrative follows Baryshnikov from childhood to his early stardom with the rigidly conservative Kirov Ballet. Smakov describes how Baryshnikov's frustration with the stale repertory and political constraints of the Kirov culminated in his impetuous, doubt-ridden defection in Toronto in 1974.

In his exuberant efforts to take advantage of the artistic freedom of the West, Baryshnikov's career has ranged from his debut with the American Ballet Theater (ABT) and a challenging experience under choreographer George Balanchine of the New York City Ballet to movies and television and his role as artistic director of the ABT.

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