2020 Great Immigrants Recipient

Alexei Ratmansky
Choreographer and Artist in Residence, American Ballet Theater
Born in:
Russia

Alexei Ratmansky was born in St. Petersburg, grew up in Kyiv, and trained at the Bolshoi Ballet School in Moscow. His career as a performer included positions as principal dancer with the Ukrainian National Ballet, the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, and the Royal Danish Ballet. A choreographer for some of the world’s top ballet companies, he is renowned for his original productions, as well as for revitalizing classical works such as Swan Lake and Romeo and Juliet for modern audiences. At the Bolshoi Ballet, where he served as artistic director from 2004 to 2009, Ratmansky diversified the storied company’s repertoire by restaging Soviet-era ballets, such as The Bright Stream (2003), set to a score by the once persecuted composer Dmitri Shostakovich. Under Ratmansky’s direction, the Critics’ Circle in London named the Bolshoi the best foreign dance company in both 2005 and 2007. Ratmansky won the prestigious Benois de la Danse prize — often described as the Academy Award of ballet — for his choreography of Anna Karenina for the Royal Danish Ballet in 2005, and two years later he garnered the Golden Mask Award as best choreographer for his production of Jeu de Cartes for the Bolshoi.

In naming Ratmansky a Fellow in 2013, the MacArthur Foundation noted: “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.”

Ratmansky joined American Ballet Theatre (ABT) as artist in residence in 2009 and works on productions with his wife, Tatiana, a former ballerina, with whom he has a son. His choreography for ABT includes Waltz Masquerade (2009), The Nutcracker (2010), Firebird (2012), The Tempest (2013), Serenade after Plato’s Symposium (2016), Whipped Cream (2017), Harlequinade (2018), The Seasons (2019), and Of Love and Rage (2020).

In 2014, Ratmansky received his second Benois de la Danse award for Shostakovich Trilogy, co-commissioned by San Francisco Ballet and ABT. His work with San Francisco Ballet on Shostakovich Trilogy would go on to earn him a Critics’ Circle National Dance Award for best classical choreography in 2020.

Ratmansky became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 2016. Of New York City, he once said, “It welcomes you. You don’t feel like an outsider.”