Widely recognized as one of the world’s most influential and sought-after choreographers, Alexei Ratmansky, currently artist-in-residence at the American Ballet Theatre, is credited with moving ballet forward, while maintaining its classical origins and revitalizing storytelling in his productions. “For [Ratmansky], everything comes from music,” says friend and fellow Russian, Mikhail Baryshnikov.
At age 10, imbued with both athleticism and a musical sensibility, Ratmansky entered Moscow’s Bolshoi Ballet School. He graduated from the class of legendary teacher Piotr Pestov in 1986 and soon began performing with the Ukrainian National Ballet in Kiev where he became principal dancer.
After six years, he left to explore Western styles of ballet. His first commissions were from ballerina Nina Ananiashvili, which led to choreographic work for leading companies such as the Kirov (now Mariinsky) and the Bolshoi Ballet. In the West, his first commissions were for the Royal Danish Ballet (2001), Royal Swedish Ballet (2002) and the San Francisco Ballet (2003). Ratmansky returned to Moscow in 2004 as artistic director of the Bolshoi. His award-winning production of The Bright Stream (2003), the first and most successful of his restaging of Soviet ballets from the 1930s, led to his appointment. During his five years at the Bolshoi, he won numerous other awards, including a prize in 2007 for the choreography of his masterpiece, Russian Seasons, for the New York City Ballet. Ratmansky joined the American Ballet Theatre in 2009. Among his notable works since then are On the Dnieper (2009), Seven Sonatas (2009), Nutcracker (2010), Firebird (2012), Tempest (2013), the Shostakovich Trilogy (2014) and a new production of Tchaikovsky’s Sleeping Beauty (2015). Over the years, Ratmansky has created solo works for Baryshnikov, Diana Vishneva and Wendy Whelan, and ballets for, among others, the Paris Opera, La Scala, and, in 2013, the Royal Ballet, his first commission for a British company. Ratmansky was named a MacArthur Fellow in 2013.