Photo by Simon Schluter for

It was just announced that two choreographers, Kyle Abraham and Alexei Ratmansky, have won MacArthur fellowships. Congratulations to both!

It’s no secret that I think Ratmansky is one of the most quietly innovative choreographers working today, breathing new life into ballet without making grand pronouncements about his intentions. Mainly he revitalizes by doing, by taking history into account while also taking stock of the present, and making the language of ballet seem new and fresh and of our time. Dancers who work with him become more connected to the music, and to their own imaginations. The music he uses opens up and reveals new secrets. In his dances there is space for humor, classicism, vulgarity, warmth, loneliness, despair.

I’ve been excited about Ratmansky from the beginning and have written about his work several times since his arrival in NYC. In 2009, when he had just been named choreographer in residence at ABT, I wrote this piece, “Ratmansky Takes Manhattan,” for The Nation. Earlier this year, I wrote a long piece about the making of his recent Shostakovich Trilogy, also for The Nation, “Running Like Shadows.”  In 2011, when ABT first performed The Bright Stream, I did a little essay on the ballet’s history for Playbill. A few of the outtakes from several interviews appeared in this cumulative q&a in DanceTabs, “Balletic Musings, a Continuing Conversation,” in August.

Needless to say, the MacArthur is great news. Dance is back. Congratulations to both!

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