Bolshoi Becomes American

(photo by Gueorgui Pinkassov from New York Times Magazine)

So, the big news in New York for the past couple of days is that Alexei Ratmansky, currently artistic director of the Bolshoi, and beloved choreographer of many a dance critic here, will be the new resident choreographer for American Ballet Theater. Story is a bit of a soap opera as well since he was recently asked to fill that position with the New York City Ballet and declined. It appears to have been a timing issue.

Anyway, this is a most exciting move for ABT, who desperately need to electrify their contemporary repertoire. Ratmansky’s an almost absurdly prolific creator, churning out new ballets practically monthly it seems, and from what everyone seems to think, never sacrificing quality. I personally have seen four of his works: one I really liked (actually, there are two in that post, one I liked, one I didn’t, so I’ve seen five of his altogether), another I really liked and wanted to see more of, one about which I could only say hmmmm, and one I couldn’t figure out what all the critics were going hog wild over but am willing to give it a few more viewings to see.

Honestly, I’m really excited, really excited, to see what ABT’s magnificent dancers will do with his work. It appears his post won’t officially begin until next spring. We have a lot to look forward to.

Only thing is, he’s recently said Swan Lake is dead (thanks to Evan for finding that article), which, before Labor Day weekend, wouldn’t have made me all that upset. But thanks to a writer from who told me at the end of ABT’s production of that ballet to make sure I saw …blahblahblah… ‘s for comparison (I couldn’t hear the name because this was during curtain call applause), I went to the library and ended up checking out every single copy of Swan Lake they had. This is a post for another day, but I really fell in love with it, and with Tchaikovsky. It can’t be dead, Mr. Ratmansky…

Also, check out ABT’s principal dancer page. There appears to be a new face… (thanks to Philip for the heads up).


  1. This reads kind of like the newest book in Nureyev… interesting

  2. I’m very excited about the news about Ratmansky too! I haven’t seen any of his works but a shot of excitement into the ABT rep is sure to be positive. I bet the dancers are really looking forward to something new to sink their teeth into. I wonder if Sasha now wishes he had stayed. I’m sure he did what was best for him and I wish him all the best in Amsterdam. Still no word if Stella will join him, she’s still on the ABT roster. And I’m still hoping ABT will be promoting some deserving dancers – Abrera, Hoven, Part??? Also can’t wait to see Bolle in the flesh!! I wonder if he’ll be cast in the fall season works.

  3. I’m excited as well. I’ve only seen a couple things he choreographed–one I really liked, the other I thought was an interesting concept but unsuccessful–but I like the idea of him coming in and shaking things up a bit at ABT. I wouldn’t want Swan Lake to be dead either–although I wouldn’t complain if ABT improved their version–but I would like a bit more variety in their spring season. And I’m only a new ballet fan so I can only imagine how many longtime fans feel.

    Ooh, and interesting that Bolle’s been added to the website. I assume he’ll be one of those dancers who only shows up for the spring season (would be happy to be wrong) but I’m definitely looking forward to seeing him.

  4. Well I guess that parting gift from Alessandra Ferri (her final performances at ABT) really worked out.

  5. haha, yes, DustPuppy, I was thinking the same thing!

    Meg, I’d love them to improve on their Swan too. One of the reasons I wanted to see several different versions staged by various companies was to see how it might be done better. Practically everything I saw (six in all) seemed to create a fuller story, so more pathos, more tragedy. I plan to post on this later, but I liked best the Bolshoi and Kirov’s versions — except they changed the ending — made it happy (with Prince Sigfried slaying von Rothbert!)

    I agree about Ratmansky — I’m not as in love with him as most of the critics are, but some of his work I’ve thought was wonderful, so overall I’m hopeful that he’ll bring lots of great things ABT’s way.

    Barbara, I wonder how much of a chance Sascha had to become a principal here with all the male competition; I think, Stella has less competition and so can more easily advance. I don’t think she’ll leave, but I could be wrong… I know, I’d like to see all those promotions too! ABT seems to take longer to promote though than NYCB.

  6. Interesting news…. I’m hesitant to jump on this bandwagon of praise for Mr. Ratmansky because I have only seen one of his works so far, and it was honestly one of the absolute worst ballets I had the misfortune to sit through. The Mariinsky Ballet (formerly known as the Kirov) performs his full-length “Cinderella,” and it is just trashy beyond words. (The Bolshoi’s version of “Cinderella,” which the company acquired during Mr. Ratmansky’s tenure — I think he commissioned it — is no better, and I remember loudly complaining about how terrible it was to my friend during intermission without realizing that Mr. Ratmansky was sitting in front of us! I hope he heard…)

    But I know it’s unfair to judge him as an artist based on one (two?) works, so I’ll just sit back and see what he does at ABT.

    Speaking of ABT, I was sad to hear of Sascha Radetsky’s departure, for he has always been one of my absolute favorite soloists. But I honestly did not think he was principal material and could not imagine him dancing the lead in “Swan Lake” or “Romeo and Juliet” or any other full-length ballet. Perhaps he left because he was more successful in/wanted more opportunities to dance in the contemporary repertoire that seems to define the Dutch National Ballet? Stella, on the other hand, is long overdue for a promotion — I think she is by far the best soloist ABT has right now (sorry, V. Part fans).

  7. Swan Lake may be dead but long live Samba Girl 😛

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