Alexei Ratmansky is known for his intensive examination of the traditional repertoire of classical ballet and his creative approach to that from the 19th century. After Paquita and Pictures of an Exhibition, he works out a world premiere on music by Pyotr I. Tchaikovsky in the 2022-23 season. Born in St. Petersburg in 1968, Alexei Ratmansky received his ballet training at the Bolshoi Ballet Academy in Moscow. He was the first soloist to dance at the Ukrainian National Ballet, the Royal Winnipeg Ballet and the Royal Danish Ballet. Even during his active time as a dancer, he began a sensational career as a choreographer. For his creation in Munich, which bears the working title Tchaikovsky Overtures, he works with the stage and costume designer Jean-Marc Puissant. The native Frenchman with a studio in London completed the Motley Theatre Design Course in London and studied art history at the Sorbonne. Before his career as a costume and set designer, he completed an apprenticeship as a dancer at the Ballet School of the Paris Opera. As a professional dancer, he was engaged with the Stuttgart Ballet from 1990 to 1998 and later with the Birmingham Royal Ballet.
For his ballet Tchaikovsky Overtures, Alexei Ratmansky chose overtures by Pyotr I. Tchaikovsky, which the composer had created in various stages of his life for concert performance. Content-wise, these musical works draw on the dramas of William Shakespeare: Hamlet, The Tempest and Romeo and Juliet. Although Alexei Ratmansky clearly has not created a narrative ballet, the narrative motifs from these three Shakespeare plays appear on the surface of the choreographic structure time and again, and so Shakespeare's “voice” forms both the basis for the dance action on the stage and for the score ringing out from the orchestra pit. Traditionally, overtures are heard at the beginning of an opera or a ballet and carry over into a plot. In Alexei Ratmansky's Tchaikovsky Overtures, however, overture follows on overture, whereby a new beginning is truly followed by another one. Interwoven into this is a fundamental pledge of the theatre, to have a new world appear with every opening of the curtains. With the devices and resources of classical and neo-classical ballet, Alexei Ratmansky continuously refers in his choreography to the history of dance art. We should not forget here that ballet literally had to fight to survive in different epochs. The hope that factual reality would dissolve into something dance-like also constantly resonates here. Opalescent in character, the Fantasy Overtures, the generic name of the orchestral pieces chosen from Tchaikovsky's oeuvre to be performed in the ballet programme, become ideal templates for a ballet, which must also be understood as fantasising. They are a fantasy about the role that classical ballet takes on in the present, what the memories it incorporates are made of, and how it might shape its future. The stage design by Jean-Marc Puissant works with various veils and space-dividing elements. These translate the progressive unveiling and build-up of expectations, inherent in the overture with its announcement character, into visual images. The stage space is designed with transparent veils, moving surfaces and sculptural forms. Ratmansky is not primarily concerned with telling a specific story. In the foreground is the joy of an event that lives from the diverse emotional moods of the music, the technical skill of the dancers, and the play with contrasting figures.