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Alexei Ratmansky (Director)


Alexei Ratmansky is a choreographer who is revitalizing classical ballet in dynamic, energetic interpretations of traditional works and his own original pieces. Born in St. Petersburg, trained at the Bolshoi Ballet School in Moscow, and currently serving as artist in residence with New York City’s American Ballet Theater, Ratmansky is steeped in the tradition of classical ballet but also inflects the canonical steps of Russia and the West with a technical idiom all his own, one that pushes dancers in new directions through a supple use of the upper body and daring, athletic partnering for both men and women.

Drawn to seminal, complex scores by Russian composers such as Stravinsky, Prokofiev, and Shostakovich, Ratmansky mines both his expansive knowledge of classical ballet’s history and the rhythms, harmonies, and orchestrations of the music to create powerful story-driven pieces. For stagings of well-known classics such as The Nutcracker and The Firebird, Ratmansky reimagines each character, adding personal qualities and quirks that bring the role to life in a fresh way and reveal nuances and shadings of the piece that infuse it with a modern sensibility.

Ratmansky’s masterful use of gesture in his Concerto DSCH (2008), set to the music of Shostakovich’s Concerto No. 2 in F Major, Op. 102, creates a self-contained world in which relationships of love, camaraderie, and jealousy are made manifest. He continues his investigation of Shostakovich and reflection on the tormented idealism of artists living in Stalinist Russia in his recent trilogy of dances (2012–2013) choreographed to works from various stages of Shostakovich’s career. As Ratmansky re-envisions the classical repertoire and creates his own striking contemporary works, he is moving the field of ballet in new directions while honoring the accomplishments of the past.

Alexei Ratmansky studied at the Bolshoi Ballet School (1978–1986) and at the State Institute of Theater Arts (GITIS) (1988–1992). He was artistic director of the Bolshoi Ballet (2004–2009) prior to joining the American Ballet Theatre as artist in residence in 2009. He has choreographed works for the Mariinsky Ballet, Paris Opera Ballet, Bolshoi Ballet, New York City Ballet, Royal Ballet, Royal Danish Ballet, and American Ballet Theater, among other companies.

Career as Dancer

From 1986-92 and from 1995-97, he was soloist with the Ballet Company of the Kiev Shevchenko Theatre of Opera and Ballet (National Opera of the Ukraine) where he danced lead roles in ballets of the classical repertoire. From 1992-95, he worked in Canada with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet. While he was with this Company, he added ballets by the following, among other, choreographers to his repertoire: George Balanchine, Frederick Ashton, Antony Tudor, John Neumeier, Rudi van Dantzig, Twyla Tharp. In 1997, he joined Royal Danish Ballet where he danced lead roles in the ballets of August Bournonville - the Company's choreographer-in-chief for all time, and in other ballets in the classical repertoire; he likewise significantly extended his repertoire to include works by contemporary choreographers. He worked with the following choreographers: Mats Ek, Jiri Kylian, John Neumeier, Maurice Bejart, Peter Martins, Kevin O'Day, Stanton Welch.

The ballets in his repertoire include: Suite en blanc to music by Edouard Lalo (choreography - Serge Lifar), Symphony in C to music by Georges Bizet (choreography - George Balanchine), Jewels to music by Igor Stravinsky (choreography - George Balanchine), The Concert to music by Frederic Chopin (choreography - Jerome Robbins), Manon to music by Jules Massenet (choreography - Kenneth MacMillan), The Odyssey (music by George Kouroupos, in a production by John Neumeier), Gaite Parisienne to music by Jacques Offenbach, in a production by Maurice Bejart, Grass to music by Serge Rachmaninov in a production by Mats Ek, Jardi tankat to the music of Spanish folk songs in a production by Nacho Duato.

Alexei Ratmansky is the creator of roles in the following ballets: Mark Godden's Reflections to music by Maurice Ravel and Darkness Between Us to music by Anton von Webern; Tim Rushton's Sweet Complaints to music by F. Goretsky, Refrain and Nomads to music by Arvo Pyart, Dominum to music by Philip Glass; Anna Laerkesen's Shostakovich, op. 99. He has appeared with the Bolshoi Ballet Company and Imperial Russian Ballet. He partnered Maya Plisetskaya in L'Apres-midi d'un faune.

Career as Choreographer

His first works were created virtually as soon as he left ballet school, when he was dancing with the Shevchenko Theatre. Ratmansky's numbers - for instance, Yurliberlyu or Whipped Cream (the latter number was mounted in Winnepeg) - were often included in the programs of Moscow ballet concerts and went down well with the public. The initial stage of Alexei Ratmansky's Moscow career is linked to a large extent with Postmodern-Theatre, a firm which organized his guest appearances, for instance, with the famous Canadian ballerina, Evelyn Hart, in Giselle (1997) and the producers of his ballets, created for Nina Ananiashvili.

The Charms of Mannerism was produced in answer to a commission from the latter ballerina. Ananiashvili was also among the Bolshoi Ballet soloists who danced in Ratmansky's Dreams of Japan and she danced the lead in the first version of Leah, a Ratmansky ballet based on The Dybbuk, the famous play by Semyon An-sky which, in its time, won fame for Moscow's Jewish Habimah Theatre and for Yevgeny Vakhtangov and inspired Leonard Bernstein who wrote a ballet on the subject.

Following the success of his ballet Capriccio which was included in the Bolshoi Theatre New Year Premieres program for young choreographers, Ratmansky was invited to work with the Maryinsky Theatre. By this time, he was already soloist with Royal Danish Ballet where he also fairly soon began to make his mark as choreographer, after which the doors to other European and American theatres were opened to him.

In 2003, Ratmansky was invited to mount a full-length ballet - The Bright Stream - at the Bolshoi Theatre, a production which would win for him the appointment of Bolshoi Theatre director of ballet. The first ballet he would mount at the Bolshoi Theatre, in his new capacity of Company director, was the second version of Leah.

Alexei Ratmansky has choreographed over twenty ballets and concert numbers among which are:
Stravinsky's A Fairy's Kiss (Kiev Theatre of Opera and Ballet, 1994, Maryinsky Theatre, 1998);
The Charms of Mannerism to music by Richard Strauss (Postmodern-Theatre, 1997);
Capriccio to music by Stravinsky (Bolshoi Theatre, 1997);
Dreams of Japan to music by L. Eto, N. Yamaguchi & A. Tosha (Bolshoi Theatre and Postmodern-Theatre, 1998);
Middle Duet to music by Yuri Hanon;
A Poem of Ecstasy to music by Alexander Scriabin (Maryinsky Theatre, 1998);
Turandot's Dream to music by Paul Hindemith ( Royal Danish Ballet, 2000);
Nutcracker (Royal Danish Ballet, 2001);
Flight to Budapest to music by Johannes Brahms (International Ballet of Copenhagen, 2001);
Bolero to music by Maurice Ravel (International Ballet of Copenhagen, 2001, Bolshoi Theatre under the umbrella of the Workshop of New Choreography project, 2004);
Lea to music by Leonard Bernstein (Alexei Fadeyechev Theatre of Dance, Moscow, 2001, 2nd version - Bolshoi Theatre, 2004);
Cinderella, music by Serge Prokofiev (Maryinsky Theatre, 2002);
Stravinsky's The Firebird (Royal Swedish Ballet, 2002);
Shostakovich's The Bright Stream (Bolshoi Theatre, 2003, Latvian National Opera, 2004);
Carnival of Animals to music by Camille Saint-Saens (Ballet San-Francisco, 2003);
Rodion Shchedrin's Anna Karenina (Royal Danish Ballet, 2004, Lithuanian National Opera, 2005);
Shostakovich's Bolt (Bolshoi Theatre, 2005).
Russian Seasons to music by Leonid Desyatnikov (New York City Ballet, 2006).

In 1988, he won 1st prize at the Ukrainian Competition of Ballet Dancers.
In 1992, he won the gold medal and the Vatslav Nijinsky prize at the S.P. Diaghilev Independent Competition for Ballet Dancers, in Moscow.
In 1993, he was awarded the title of Merited Artist of the Ukrainian Republic.
In 1999, Alexei Ratmansky's ballet Dreams of Japan carried off the Golden Mask National Theatre prize.
In 2002, for his contribution to the Danish arts, he was made Knight of the Order of the Danish Flag by Queen Margrethe II.
In 2004, he was awarded the Golden Mask National Theatre prize in the Best Choreographer nomination (2002/2003 season) for his production of The Bright Stream at the Bolshoi Theatre.
In 2005, he was awarded the Benois de la danse prize for his production of Rodion Shchedrin's Anna Karenina for Royal Danish Ballet (2003/2004 season).
In 2007, he was awarded National Dance Awards Critics' Circle prize for his production of Shostakovich's The Bright Stream which had been shown in London during the Bolshoi Ballet tour in 2006.

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