MacArthur Fellows Program

MacArthur Fellows / Meet the Class of 2013

Alexei Ratmansky


Artist in Residence

American Ballet Theatre

New York, New York

Age: 45 at time of award

Published September 25, 2013

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.


High-resolution photos for download. Photos are owned by the MacArthur Foundation and licensed under a Creative Commons license: CC-BY. Credit: John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Right-click on a link below to save the file to your computer.

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