At New York City Ballet’s winter gala way back in November 2006, change was in the air. The company presented two really cool, sexy new ballets by two equally cool and sexy young choreographers — Slice to Sharp by Jorma Elo and Middle Duet by Alexei Ratmansky — and it seemed like, finally, the ballet had found worthy heirs to the throne of Christopher Wheeldon. (Wheeldon, City Ballet’s choreographer-in-residence, had only weeks before announced his decision to leave the company when his contract expired.) It was tough to call which one might get the nod — Elo, the quirky Finn with fiercely geometric choreography based at Boston Ballet, or Ratmansky, the Bolshoi’s young, prolific resident genius — but we sort of hoped for Ratmansky. Middle Duet was breathtaking — as close to pure sex we’ve seen in a non-Wheeldon ballet in some time.
Happily, we were right! Though he technically hasn’t accepted the post yet, Ratmansky confirmed today that he’s leaving the Bolshoi and looks set to replace Wheeldon, who leaves City Ballet after premiering one last piece, Rococo Variations, this month. Not surprisingly, there’s a bit of a Ratmansky-gasm going on in the city this month as the cute young Russian prepares to step into the shoes of the cute young Brit, so for a preview of what’s to come, check out his Russian Seasons, currently playing in the City Ballet repertory; Nina Ananiashvili and the State Ballet of Georgia's performance of his works at BAM later this month; or ballet darling Diana Vishneva dancing his Pierrot Lunaire in her solo showcase at City Center starting February 21. —Rebecca Milzoff