Alexei Ratmansky, one of the most acclaimed choreographers in the world, is stepping down from his perch at American Ballet Theatre, the company announced on Thursday.
Ratmansky, who has held the title of artist in residence at ABT for 13 years, will leave at the end of his contract in June 2023. The company hailed his many contributions but said it did not have word on what Ratmansky might do next.
The 54-year old choreographer is known to global audiences — he’s created works for countless companies and is the former artistic director of the Bolshoi ballet — for his prolific talent and deeply varied repertoire. That includes putting a fresh spin on old classics like “The Sleeping Beauty” and “The Nutcracker” and creating new works like the whimsical “Whipped Cream” or “Songs of Bukovina,” set to Ukrainian folk songs.
Born in St. Petersburg, Russia, to a Russian mother and a Ukrainian father, Ratmansky grew up in Kyiv and his parents still live there. He was choreographing in Moscow when the Russian invasion of Ukraine began and left the country immediately. In September, the MacArthur “genius grant” recipient presented “Wartime Elegy” at Pacific Northwest Ballet in Seattle, dedicated to the people of Ukraine. On opening night, he unfurled a Ukrainian flag during curtain calls and held it aloft.
“Alexei has given an immeasurable gift to ABT,” said Kevin McKenzie, outgoing artistic director of American Ballet Theatre. “Creating an indelible mark on our identity, he pushed the bar of what is possible to achieve.”
Incoming director Susan Jaffe noted that Ratmansky’s “extraordinary vision of dance has propelled ballet to heights far beyond what we thought was possible 20 years ago.”
In a statement, Ratmansky said: “My time at ABT has been a true privilege, offering me a unique opportunity to work with its incredible artists … I will always be grateful for my time here.”
Jaffe noted that under her new leadership the company will continue to perform Ratmansky’s works and to commission new ones. ABT is due to perform “Songs of Bukovina” in several U.S. cities as part of its Spring 2023 tour.