Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Bolshoi Theater Picks New Artistic Director

Ending months of speculation, the Bolshoi Theater on Monday announced that Yury Burlaka would replace Alexei Ratmansky as artistic director of its ballet troupe.

Burlaka, a graduate of the Bolshoi's training school, the Moscow State Choreographic Academy, will officially begin working Jan. 1, 2009, Bolshoi director Anatoly Iksanov told reporters.

Ratmansky had held the post since 2004 and despite his success at the Bolshoi, both in creating new ballets and in returning its dance troupe to a level of accomplishment unknown since Soviet times, it has long been public knowledge that he intended to step down as artistic director at the end of this year.

In a recent interview published in The New York Times, Ratmansky expressed a desire to escape the administrative burdens of the post -- which he said take up 75 percent of his time -- and devote his efforts entirely to choreography. He will, however, remain attached to the Bolshoi as its principal guest choreographer, Iksanov said.

Burlaka, 39, had been best known as a dancer, choreographer and, since April, artistic director with the Moscow region's official dance company, the Russian National Ballet. In June, he and Ratmansky collaborated in staging the Bolshoi's highly acclaimed production of the 19th-century classic "Le Corsaire."

Iksanov on Monday also confirmed the return of Yury Grigorovich, the artistic director of the Bolshoi's ballet from 1964 until his controversial forced departure in 1995. During much of his tenure, Grigorovich was the theater's undisputed, and reputedly iron-fisted, ruler. Grigorovich, 81, will return to oversee the nine full-length ballets featuring his choreography that remain a part of the Bolshoi's repertoire, including perennial favorites such as Pyotr Tchaikovsky's "Swan Lake," "The Sleeping Beauty" and "The Nutcracker," as well as Aram Khachaturian's "Spartacus," Iksanov said.

Burlaka and Grigorovich did not attend the news conference, and questions regarding the future direction of the Bolshoi's ballet troupe under their leadership remained largely unanswered.

Ratmansky has brought much new and innovative choreography to the Bolshoi and drawn heavily on the works of master 20th-century choreographers from abroad.

Until now, Burlaka has largely specialized in recreating the original dance steps of 19th-century classics, while Grigorovich is commonly regarded as the primary remaining representative of Russian ballet as it existed in the later Soviet era. Since leaving the Bolshoi, Grigorovich has been active, creating a ballet company in Krasnodar whose prima ballerina is Anastasia Volochkova, who was fired by the Bolshoi in 2003 following a bitter public dispute.

Iksanov dismissed the idea that Grigorovich's return might bring with it an invitation to Volochkova. "That would be as likely as asking t.A.T.u to appear on the Bolshoi stage," Iksanov said.