Amar Ramasar

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Amar Ramasar
Born 1981/1982 (age 34–35)[1][2]
Bronx, New York
Occupation ballet dancer
Current group New York City Ballet

Amar Ramasar (born 1981/1982) is a principal dancer of the New York City Ballet. In 2010, Dance Magazine reported that Ramasar was one of the few Asian American professional ballet dancers. He took his first dance lessons at the Henry Street Settlement House on the Lower East Side, to which he commuted by subway from his home in the South Bronx almost daily.

Education and early career[edit]

Amar Ramasar was born in the Bronx, New York City. His father, who is of Trinidadian and Indian descent,[3] is a former United States Marine who worked as a computer technician while Amar was growing up.[1] His mother, who is Puerto Rican,[3] worked as a registered nurse. Outgoing and talkative as a child, he says "No one knew anything about ballet in my family".[1]

When he was 10 years old, a music teacher in his public school became impressed with Ramasar's creative talents. The teacher urged Ramasar to audition for the TADA! Youth Theater. Ramasar was one of two children selected from more than 300 who tried out.[1] Because his parents worked full-time, Ramasar learned to take the New York City Subway from his home in the South Bronx to the studio on the Lower East Side, and rode public transit to get to the daily rehearsals.[1][4] At the Henry Street Settlement House, where he took daily lessons,[4] Ramasar met Daniel Catanach, a choreographer working with TADA! Youth Theater. Ramasar was 11 years old when Catanach showed him a videotape of the New York City Ballet production of Agon, featuring Heather Watts and Mel Tomlinson.[1][3] Ramasar became instantly fascinated by ballet. He later recalled thinking to himself, "That's the ballet I want to dance, and that's the company I'm going to get into".[1]

Ramasar took his first dance lesson at the Henry Street Settlement House's Abrons Arts Center in 1993.[4] His family was indifferent about his decision to dance. "My father didn't prevent me from doing it, but he didn't make it easy," Ramasar says.[1] When he was 14,[4] Catanach urged Ramasar to audition for the School of American Ballet, a school which trains young dancers who wish to try out for the New York City Ballet.[1] He was accepted in 1993,[4][5][6] and received his first ballet lesson there.[3] His family had no money to support his dance education, and Ramasar relied exclusively on scholarships to pay his tuition. His first years at the School of American Ballet were difficult. Ramasar was years behind the other boys (some of whom were as young as six years old) in athleticism and technique.[1][3] He later said he felt discouraged by how far behind he was: "I would look around and see all these boys who were turned-out and beautiful, and I was just a clumsy Bronx boy. It took a lot of willpower" to stay in school.[1] Ramasar voiced his doubts to teacher Olga Kostritzky and told her he was going to drop ballet for acting. "You want to play a robber, be in movies," she told him. "You want to be a prince, stay in the ballet."[1] Peter Martins, then-director of both the School of American Ballet and the New York City Ballet, proved critical in helping Ramasar develop as a dancer, giving him 10 minutes of partnering after each class.[3] Ramasar received high praise at the School of American Ballet year-end workshops,[1] and studied at the American Ballet Theatre's Summer Program and The Rock School for Dance Education.[5][6]

NYC Ballet[edit]

Ramasar joined the New York City Ballet as an apprentice in 2000, and joined the corps de ballet in 2001.[4][5][6] Martins cast him in role of the Cavalier in The Nutcracker in 2001. Ramasar's father watched him dance for the first time in this role. "I think then he understood," Ramasar said.[1] He became a soloist in March 2006,[7] and was promoted to a principal in October 2009.[4][5][6] Ramasar's promotion was noted by a critic as good thing, because "change at NYCB is itself a gift, for as younger dancers take over cherished roles, these wonderful ballets can look new all over again."[8]

Ramasar is one of the few Asian American professional ballet dancers nowadays.[9][10][11] As of 2010, he is the only person of color who is a principal in that prestigious company. He was quoted as saying:

I actually looked at my race as an advantage because there was no one who looked like me. In New York City Ballet especially, I felt my casting has always been great. The biggest one for me was Fancy Free because, if you think of the history of that ballet, it's not necessarily the case that in the 1940s an Indian guy was one of the sailors fighting for America. But they let me do that here, and I thought, "I’m breaking boundaries that people automatically put up for a stereotypical white ballet."

— Amar Ramasar, quoted in Dance Magazine, June, 2005. (Emphasis added.)[9]

He has danced many prominent roles in the NYC Ballet company.[4][5][6] He is one of NYC Ballet's principal dancers.[5][6]

Other work[edit]

In 2000, Ramasar received the Mae L. Wien Award.[5][6]

He was featured in a social studies trade textbook, Meet the Dancers, by Amy Nathan.[12]

Ramasar appeared in NY Export: Opus Jazz, a 2010 film about that ballet.

Critical response[edit]

Since 2003, Ramasar has been getting favorable reviews from both blogging fans and the professional media.

His first featured review in The New York Times was in 2003:

A revelation came from the young Amar Ramasar, who has taken over Jock Soto's original role opposite Janie Taylor in The Infernal Machine, the convoluted acrobatic duet created by Peter Martins for the Diamond Project last spring. ... This time, there was a fresh emotional current with a dextrous partner who added a tinge of vulnerability. It was an outstanding performance from both dancers in first-class choreography that suddenly acquired the aura of an existential void. ... [A] woman's collapsible body is manipulated into wraparound positions by the man. ... Head thrown back, Ms. Taylor now evokes more angst than spunk and Mr. Ramasar, unlike Mr. Soto, is fleetingly fearful in a retreat. He stands over his partner at the end, but she has worn him out.

— Anna Kisselgoff, New York Times[13]

In 2005, the New York Times gave a rave review for Ramasar in a feature article:

Gifted dancers tend to grow up in public. That is true of Amar Ramasar, who has taken on a surprising range of roles for a corps dancer. He is never less than fully engaged in performance, and his joy in dancing is infectious, though it sometimes takes him over the top of his assignment.

— Jennifer Dunning, New York Times, December 30, 2005.[14]

In 2006, the Times called him one of the "Young dancers who are rising stars in the New York City Ballet."[2] The same year, the Village Voice pointed out his strengths and weaknesses:

Ramasar is extremely promising, both forceful and softly muscular (he'll be better when he views "modern" moves in the context of classicism and stops lifting his shoulders and dropping his head).

— Deborah Jowitt, Village Voice[15]

In 2006, he was named one of "25 to Watch" by Dance Magazine.[16]

In 2007, Dance Spirit wrote that "Amar Ramasar looked too nice to be a villain" in Romeo and Juliet.[17]

Ballet.co.uk, a British online magazine, raved in 2008 about Ramasar, even while criticizing a new dance in which he performed.[10]

During the 2010 season Ramasar has gotten rave reviews. The Saratogian called Ramasar "hard-working" for his roles in Fancy Free and Who Cares? at the New York City Ballet summer season at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center.[18] Their critic had "the pleasure of watching Joaquín De Luz, Tyler Angle, and Amar Ramasar dance together, truly convincing as three good sailor buddies."[18] Ramasar's performance in Fancy Free was "enthralling its audience with Red Angels," an Albany Times Union blogger noted; "The intense color proved a dramatic backdrop to the power and strength of its four dancers: Maria Kowroski, Teresa Reichlen, Tyler Angle and Amar Ramasar."[19] The official review from the Times Union wrote that Fancy Free, "Played with ample swagger by Tyler Angle, Joaquín De Luz and Amar Ramasar ... set the bravura tone for the entire night."[20] In May 2010, TheArtsDesk.com noted that "the spectacularly bare-chested Amar Ramasar" had sex appeal.[21]

Personal life[edit]

Ramasar was previously involved with Sara Mearns, a principal dancer for the New York City Ballet. They met at the School of American Ballet, and were a couple for several years.[22]

Dating since 2009, Amar Ramasar married Elysia Dawn Fridkin (also known as Elysia Dawn) in October 2011. His wife was formerly a dancer with Complexions Contemporary Ballet, artistic director of the Columbia University Ballet Collaborative, and is currently a Program Associate for MetLiveArts at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. [3]

Their marriage ended in divorce in 2016.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Sulcas, Roslyn (May 15, 2015). "Amar Ramasar's Unlikely Path to Becoming a Prince for City Ballet". The New York Times. Retrieved May 17, 2015. 
  2. ^ a b John, Rockwell (January 18, 2006). "CRITIC'S NOTEBOOK; In the Complex World of Ballet, It's Youth That Soars". The New York Times,. p. E1. Retrieved January 14, 2010. Amar Ramasar, 24 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Carman, Joseph (September 2011). "The Golden Guys". Dance Magazine. Retrieved May 17, 2015. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h "Amar Ramasar: Dancing the Dream," July 7, 2008, found at the Henry Street Settlement website. Accessed July 12, 2010.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g "New York City Ballet Announces Six Promotions," October 27, 2009. Found at Press release at the New York City Ballet website. Accessed July 12, 2010.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g Artistic personnel profile of Amar Ramasar at the New York City Ballet website. Accessed July 12, 2010.
  7. ^ "New York City Ballet Promotes Nine Dancers," March 8, 2006. Found at New York City Ballet website. Accessed July 12, 2010.
  8. ^ Jay Rogoff, "'Midsummer Night's Dream' among highlights during New York City Ballet season at SPAC July 6–17," The Saratogian, July 2, 2010. Found at The Saratogian website. Accessed July 12, 2010.
  9. ^ a b Ann Farmer, Rosalynde LeBlanc, and Steven Sucato, "Other voices: dancers, choreographers and teachers speak frankly about their experiences regarding race and dance," Dance Magazine, June, 2005. Found at Dance Magazine website and Bnet Find Articles website. Accessed July 13, 2010.
  10. ^ a b "Each pair performed, with total commitment and physical daring — especially in the dancing of Amar Ramasar whose family originally hails from India ...." Rachel Straus, "New York City Ballet: Passages: ‘Oltremare’, ‘Valse Triste’, ‘An American in Paris’, ‘Russian Seasons’", Ballet.co Magazine, January 2008. Found at Ballet.co Magazine website. Accessed July 14, 2010.
  11. ^ Ballet Talk discussion group. Last accessed July 14, 2010.
  12. ^ Amy Nathan, Meet the Dancers: From Ballet, Broadway, and Beyond ("From ballerinas to Broadway show-stoppers, these dancers were kids once, too!') (Henry Holt, 2008). ISBN 9780805080711. Found at Amy Nathan books website and Google Books. Both accessed July 13, 2010.
  13. ^ Anna Kisselgoff, "DANCE REVIEW; For Debuts, A Charge Of Emotion," New York Times, January 17, 2003. Found at New York Times archives online. Accessed July 13, 2010.
  14. ^ Jennifer Dunning, "At City Ballet, Some Especially Catch the Eye; Amar Ramasar," New York Times, December 30, 2005. Found at New York Times archives online. Accessed July 12, 2010.
  15. ^ Deborah Jowitt, "Dance", Village Voice, January 3, 2006. Found at Village Voice website. Accessed July 13, 2010.
  16. ^ "25 To Watch". Dance Magazine. January 2006. Retrieved February 26, 2012. 
  17. ^ Lynn Garafola, "New York City Ballet," Dance Spirit, September 2007. Found at Britannica Bp website. Accessed July 13, 2010.
  18. ^ a b "Review: New York City Ballet's sterling 'Source' springs with joy at SPAC," Saratogian, July 12, 2010. Found at Saratogian website. Accessed July 12, 2010.
  19. ^ Christen Gowan, as reviewed by Lisa Stevens, Saratoga Seen blog, "New York City Ballet has hot opening at SPAC," Albany Times Union, July 7, 2010. (Caption to photo of Ramasar and two other dancers: "Hey there, sailor! Members of the NYCB perform 'Fancy Free.'" (by Michael Farrell/Times Union)) Found at Blogs at the Albany Times Union website. Accessed July 12, 2010.
  20. ^ Joseph Dalton, "City Ballet launches summer season with grace, brilliance," Times Union, July 8, 2010. Found at Albany Times Union website. Accessed July 12, 2010.
  21. ^ Roslyn Sulcas, "Wayne McGregor & Alexei Ratmansky premieres, New York City Ballet," TheArtsDesk.com, 16 May 2010. ("Perfectly suited to the Balanchine heritage: Wayne McGregor's NYCB debut piece 'Outlier' with Amar Ramasar, Maria Kowroski and Craig Hall." Photograph by Paul Kolnik/NYCB.) Found at TheArtsDesk.com. Accessed July 13, 2010.
  22. ^ "How three dance couples make it work on stage and off". Dance Spirit. June 24, 2009. Retrieved May 17, 2015. 

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