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Choreographer haunted by war takes on new role at City Ballet


But he never stopped working at City Ballet, creating six ballets for the company, including “Concerto DSCH” (2008), “Namouna, un grand entertainment” (2010) and “Voices” (2020), which had a distinctly different flavor of those he created elsewhere – often more abstract, wilder, stranger, more ephemeral.

Today, after nearly 14 years at Ballet Theatre, he finally joins City Ballet, for its 75th anniversary season, as artist in residence, alongside resident choreographer, Justin Peck, who is also artistic advisor to the company.

“The idea that he could come to us was very exciting,” Whelan said of Ratmansky. “Especially for the dancers who had worked with him.” Whelan, who helped create “Russian Seasons,” said she was transformed by the process. “We were really sorry to lose him at the time,” she said of 2008, “but now there’s new leadership, and the timing and opportunity seemed right. And we offered him the opportunity to reside with us.

“It’s a new chapter,” Ratmansky said, both for himself and the dancers. “I’m excited to give them materials that will help them grow, not only in this work, but across multiple pieces.” Go somewhere together.

Inevitably, this new chapter is marked by events in Ukraine. Ratmansky, who expressed his condemnation of Russian aggression, I saw his name deleted works he created for Russian companies. He and his Ukrainian wife, Tatiana, spend their evenings watching Ukrainian news and browsing Ukrainian websites that chronicle the deaths of soldiers and civilians and the effects of missile strikes. Meanwhile, life in New York continues as usual. This dissonance makes things even more surreal. “Death is everywhere,” he said, “and here I am, walking safely. It’s a strange feeling.

A sense of tragedy piercing everyday life permeates his new work, “Solitude,” set to two movements by Mahler, taken from the First and Fifth Symphonies. The first selection is a funeral march, the second a slow, scintillating composition for strings and harp (“the Adagietto”), written to express the composer’s passion for Alma Schindler, who would become his wife.


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