Bernstein in a Bubble by Alexei Ratmansky
Patrick Frenette, Blaine Hoven, and Tyler Maloney in Alexei Ratmansky’s Bernstein in a Bubble. Photo by Rosalie O’Connor; Courtesy of Kennedy Center

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American Ballet Theatre at Kennedy Center

“It’s humiliating to think that dancers should only dance and concentrate on their art, ignoring what’s going on around them,” world renowned choreographer Alexei Ratmansky wrote on Facebook recently. In the month since Vladimir Putin began bombing Ukraine, Ratmansky has made it abundantly clear that he cares very much about the world beyond ballet studios, and has become one of the loudest voices in the global dance community speaking out against the invasion. Although he trained in Russia, attending the Bolshoi School, Ratmansky grew up in Ukraine. His parents and his wife’s family still live in Kyiv. He was working in Moscow in late February, when his wife Tatiana called from New York to share news of the invasion. Within hours, Ratmansky and his creative team were packing, their unplanned departure scuttling two planned premieres at the Bolshoi Ballet. Moscow foregoes Ratmansky’s ballets this spring, but Washington will not. American Ballet Theatre opens its six-day run at the Kennedy Center on Tuesday, March 29 with Bernstein in a Bubble, a new work created during the pandemic at a YMCA retreat center. The cast includes Bethesda native Aran Bell, who joined ABT in 2014 and was promoted to principal in 2020. The run continues through Sunday, April 3, with performances of the classic story ballet Don Quixote. Bell debuts in the lead role Saturday afternoon. But for many local balletomanes, Tuesday and Wednesday’s program featuring Bernstein in a Bubble and two other new ballets are the main attraction. A hometown dancer starring in a new work by a choreographer weeping for his homeland? There may not be a dry eye in the Opera House, all lit up in yellow and blue. The American Ballet Theatre performs from March 29 through April 3 at the Kennedy Center, 2700 F St. NW. $29–$229. Proof of vax and masks required.