The Boy from Kyiv: Alexei Ratmansky’s Life in Ballet

Farrar. Oct. 2023. 464p. ISBN 9780374102616. $35. DANCE
Dance writer and journalist Harss’s biography makes a case that choreographer Alexei Ratmansky should be considered an influential force who has successfully made his mark in ballet. Born in Ukraine, Ratmansky trained at the Bolshoi Ballet, where he developed a compelling voice as a choreographer. He served as the Bolshoi’s director for several years before emigrating to the U.S., where he continues to create for the American Ballet Theatre and other companies worldwide. Harss paints a full picture of Ratmansky’s career as a dancer and choreographer. Casual dance fans might find the stories a bit dry, but dance scholars will appreciate the depth into which Harss dives. Plentiful photographs help to demonstrate the breadth and character of the subject. A chronological list of choreographic works and a bibliography solidify the book’s utility as a resource for study.
VERDICT The descriptions of Ratmansky’s style and working process are accessible to readers who have no extensive technical ballet vocabulary, but the book is still detailed enough to satisfy serious researchers. This thorough account of Ratmansky’s career is best suited for libraries that support in-depth dance scholarship.
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