In Anna Karenina Alexei Ratmansky succeeded as an artist with a perfect sense of measure in interpreting Leo Tolstoy's great novel with cinematic ease, without superfluous sentimentality revealing the power of the vast plot and within the atmosphere of his production conveying the stylistics of the literary basis. Ratmansky condensed Rodion Shchedrin's initial three-act score, first embodied in ballet by Maya Plisetskaya, into two acts. Leaving the unhurried and bulky narrative to the drama-ballet genre of the past, he concentrated the choreographic action on the emotional sufferings of Anna and Vronsky, while at the same time retaining the eloquent but dance-sparse mise-en-scènes. The choreographer constructed the plot as a series of Vronsky's recollections already after Anna's death. In the scenes of the ballet that tempestuosly follow one after another the dance is laconic and unfolds in capacious forms only in the key episodes. Like landmarks of their mental existences, the protagonists' duets become emotional and dance explosions, prepared by the intensity of the external events denoted and the restrained nature of their choreographic exposition. The performers of the lead roles face the task of living and narrating the stories of their characters in nine duets.
When, in 2010, Ratmansky was working on this production with dancers from the Mariinsky Theatre he rehearsed the lead female role with three ballerinas. Taking into account the differences of their individual mental and physical make-up and their idiosynchracies, the choreographer altered the text for each dancer, allowing freedom for personal interpretations. The interpretation of the role of Anna was defined by the performers, each stressing a feature of this multi-faceted character that is close to her personally. If the mutual attraction and doubts of Anna and Vronsky are presented through dance in the ballet, then Alexei Karenin is a character who acts rather than dances. His inner world is revealed in gestures and the way he walks. Indeed, initially this image was conceived as a role for an experienced actor. In a production where the action unfolds with impressive, utterly non-Tolstoy-like speed, in the changes between the scenes it is only on the three major characters that light remains truly focussed. The other characters are indicated as if by a dotted line, though the plastique colours of the countless characters create volume and an entourage against the background of which a dance drama of truly Tolstoy-like dimensions unfolds.