According to Stanford professor Janice Ross the Soviet Union “viewed ballet as a vital medium of national identification, important in shaping the contours of soviet cultural life”. Mikhail Baryshnikov grew up in this culture, he was immersed in ballet from a young age. At the age of 26 Baryshnikov defected to Canada. He claimed Soviet ballet was to stifling and did not allow for self expression. Baryshnikov would go on to become one the most famous dancers of his time. His particular life experiences give us a better understanding of artistic expression under a repressive regime.