John Rockwell: September 2008 Archives
The news today that Alexei Ratmansky, artistic director of the Bolshoi Ballet and perhaps the most admired classical ballet choreographer in the world just now, will be joining American Ballet Theatre as artist in residence came as a shock. Not that Ratmansky was leaving the Bolshoi -- we already knew that. Not that he was coming to New York (with wife and son, no less), given his warm reception here. But that Ballet Theatre had somehow poached him away from the New York City Ballet.
Just how they poached him remains unclear. Ratmansky has never worked with Ballet Theatre,which has none of his ballets in their "classics"-heavy repertory. He has done two for City Ballet, has another one scheduled and had come very close just a few months ago to replacing Christopher Wheeldon as choreographer in residence at the New York State Theater.
We don't know what the lure of Ballet Theatre was because the company insisted that the New York Times interview him only in the presence of Kevin McKenzie, its artistic director, and Rachel Moore, its executive director, and he clammed up. Seems rather controlling, like the Republicans' nervousness about Sarah Palin being out there on her own, alone with the big bad wolves of journalism.
What can be said is that this is a major loss for Peter Martins and the City Ballet, and a major coup for Ballet Theatre. Mind you, Ballet Theatre's engagement with contemporary ballet is so tenuous these days that an enormous amount of work needs to be done. starting with figuring out a better way to present itself in New York. The year here is split between eight weeks at the cavernous Metropolitan Opera House, whose costs almost preclude expermentation, and a mere three weeks at City Center. But a lot of work represennts an exciting challenge. One can project with some confidence that Ratmansky will be up to it.