Alexei Ratmansky: From Hibernation to Bubble Bernstein

When Ratmansky arrived, the seven dancers, including three of Ballet Theater’s newest principals, Brandt, Cassandra Trenary and Aran Bell...


When Ratmansky arrived, the seven dancers, including three of Ballet Theater’s newest principals, Brandt, Cassandra Trenary and Aran Bell, had already been at Silver Bay for two weeks, ramping up their daily training to be ready for long days of intense rehearsals. (Because Ratmansky arrived later, he had to wear a mask for his first two weeks.) Some of the dancers, like Patrick Frenette, had been confined to doing barre at home for the better part of a year.

Others, like Brandt, Bell and Catherine Hurlin, a rising soloist, had access to ballet studios and live coaching. “A few of them looked like they had never stopped dancing, and their confidence level was great,” said Nancy Raffa, one of the company’s rehearsal directors, who came along to teach class and assist. Her main task those first days was to get them all back to the same level. (Three additional dancers, Melvin Lawovi, Leah Baylin and Cameron McCune, were also at Silver Bay, creating a new piece for the company’s choreographic workshop, ABT Incubator.)

The Silver Bay YMCA is in an idyllic spot, on a lake, surrounded by forests, now covered in snow. “The view from the window is like wallpaper,” Ratmansky said “Nothing ever changes, not even a person walking outside.”

He didn’t mean this as a criticism. “When I’m working, the less interaction with the outside world, the better,” he said. “Here, from the studio to my room is just a few steps. I don’t have to put on any shoes or a coat. It’s like a dream come true.”

The new ballet, about 15 minutes long, is set to an eight-part suite composed by Bernstein in 1980 in honor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s 100th birthday. It’s a celebratory assemblage of Bernstein-ian gestures: blaring brass, big crescendos à la “West Side Story,” syncopation and jazzy intonations.

Ratmansky, who has made two previous ballets to Bernstein’s music, took his cues from the suite’s energetic drive and humor. “I’m trying to have the same intentions as Bernstein, to make a fun piece to show off the group,” he said. “I didn’t want to express the sorrows of our times through slow port de bras. I wanted to give them the chance to do some real dancing, with joy and playfulness.”

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Newsrust - US Top News: Alexei Ratmansky: From Hibernation to Bubble Bernstein
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