American lighting designer and stage manager Ronald Bates (1932–86) was one of the leading figures in his field working in ballet, and was particularly known for his close partnership with choreographer George Balanchine. He created the lighting designs for several key Balanchine works, including Serenade, Ballo della regina and Stravinsky Violin Concerto. He also designed the lighting for Jerome Robbins’s The Concert, and was involved in lighting the original productions of Robbins’s Dances at a Gathering and In the Night.
Bates studied scenic design at Los Angeles City College and joined New York City Ballet as Production Stage Manager in 1957. He continued in the role for more than twenty years and was appointed Director of Production with the company in 1985. In addition to his work with NYCB, Bates was made Technical Director of New York State Theater in 1971, and worked with dance companies around the world including Dance Theatre of Harlem, San Francisco Ballet, Paris Opera and Zürich Ballet and, in theatre, at the Stratford, Connecticut, Mozart and Shakespeare festivals.
One of Bates’s most important legacies is the ‘Balanchine basket-weave floor’, a resilient wooden stage-floor design created in 1981 in collaboration with Balanchine and NYCB Stage Manager Perry Silvey.