It's news that, as a New Yorker, I am selfishly sad to report: American Ballet Theatre has announced that its The Nutcracker, choreographed by Alexei Ratmansky, will move to the west coast in 2015. Its last New York performance will be this December at the Brooklyn Academy of Music before it calls the Segerstom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa, California, "home." Ratmansky's production premiered in 2010 and received instant praise for its fine use of students and quick wit.
Sometimes it seems like Alexei Ratmansky is remaking the classical canon, one ballet at a time. He restaged Le Corsaire and Flames of Paris back when he was director of the Bolshoi. Dutch National Ballet premiered his take on Don Quixote in 2010. He gave The National Ballet of Canada a new Romeo and Juliet in 2011. He took a risk with his unconventional Firebird for American Ballet Theatre in 2012. And ABT has made his delightful Nutcracker an annual New York tradition.
Congratulations to choreographers Alexei Ratmansky and Kyle Abraham! Both have been named 2013 MacArthur Fellows, an honor that earns them a $625,000 "genius" grant—and entry into a very exclusive club, which includes the likes of Merce Cunningham, Paul Taylor, Trisha Brown, Mark Morris, Twyla Tharp, Bill T. Jones and Arthur Mitchell.
Is ballet's post-Balanchine choreography rut finally over? Roslyn Sulcas, a contributor to Pointe, argues today in The New York Times that it is. She points out that works by Christopher Wheeldon, Alexei Ratmansky and Wayne McGregor offer a completely new way of using the classical vocabulary.
Alexei Ratmansky and American Ballet Theatre are a match made in ballet heaven. The artist in residence has a 10-year contract with ABT, and has choreographed abstract and narrative ballets for the company such as The Bright Stream, The Nutcracker and Firebird. At the Guggenheim’s Works & Process on Sunday, ballet mistress Nancy Raffa, and principal David Hallberg discussed what it's like to work with Ratmansky. Apparently, Ratmansky comes to the studio very prepared, with his 2x4 inch black book containing choreography to each count of the score.
The mood is a little tense as Alexei Ratmansky peeks in the window during our warm-up barre. The dancers exchange smiles, as if to agree silently to our excitement. After class, we are all introduced to Mr. Ratmansky, and settle in for a talk. He greets us warmly, and at once all our nerves seem to disappear.
The New York City Ballet spent its winter season tackling Big Story Ballets: Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, A Midsummer Night's Dream. So when I entered the David H. Koch theater last night (right before Sarah Jessica Parker, no less!) for the company's spring gala, I was anticipating--OK, eagerly anticipating--a return to balletic abstraction, to sleek unitards and challenging music and movement for movement's sake.