The Boy from Kyiv
Alexei Ratmansky's Life in Ballet
Author: Marina Harss
Named a Best Book of the Year by NPR and The New Yorker
The Boy from Kyiv is the life story of Alexei Ratmansky, the most celebrated ballet choreographer of our time.
“[A] spirited, engaging biography . . . Ms. Harss analyzes each of Mr. Ratmansky’s ballets, skillfully describing them in such vivid detail that you can almost see them . . . A deeply researched portrait.” —Moira Hodgson, The Wall Street Journal
Alexei Ratmansky is transforming ballet for the twenty-first century. An artist of daring imagination, the choreographer has created breathtakingly original works for the world’s most revered companies. He has fashioned a singular approach to balletic storytelling that bridges the space between narrative and abstraction and heightens ambiguity and surprise on the stage. He has boldly restored great centuries-old ballets to their former glory, combining archival research with his own choreographic genius to retrieve detail and color once lost to the ages. And above all, he is renowned for fusing the Western and Eastern ballet traditions, and for drawing on the visual arts, literature, music, film, and beyond with inspired vim, to forge a style that is vibrant, eclectic, and utterly new: one that promises to leave an indelible mark on this venerable art form.
But before Ratmansky was the artistic director of the Bolshoi Ballet, the resident choreographer at American Ballet Theatre, the artist in residence at New York City Ballet, and generally, as The New Yorker has it, “the most sought-after man in ballet,” he was just a boy from Kyiv, sneaking into the ballet at night, concocting his own juvenile adaptations of novels and stories, and dreaming up new possibilities for bodies in motion.
In The Boy from Kyiv, the first biography of this groundbreaking artist, the celebrated dance writer Marina Harss takes us behind the curtain to reveal Ratmansky’s fascinating life, from his Soviet boyhood through his globe-spanning career. Over a decade in the making, this biography arrives at a pivotal moment in Ratmansky’s journey, one that has seen him painfully and publicly break ties with Russia, the country in which he made his name, in solidarity with his native Ukraine, and take on a new challenge at the storied New York City Ballet. Told with the lyricism, drama, and verve that befit its subject, The Boy from Kyiv is a riveting account of this major artist’s ascent to the peaks of his field, a mesmerizing study of creativity in action, and a triumphant testament to ballet’s enduring vitality.
Farrar, Straus and Giroux