Alexei Ratmansky, former director of the Bolshoi Ballet, in Moscow, has been described as “the most gifted choreographer in classical ballet today”. The Russian will get some local exposure when Hong Kong Ballet premieres his one-act show Le Carnaval des Animaux (The Carnival of the Animals) on Friday at the Hong Kong Cultural Centre. In 2004, Ratmansky choreographed the ballet Anna Karenina, based on the novel by fellow Russian Leo Tolstoy, which, in 2012, was made into a film starring Keira Knightley …

At the age of three, the budding actress told her parents she wanted an agent – after all, they both had one: her father, Will Knightley, is a stage actor, and her mother, Sharman Macdonald, a playwright. Their ambitious daughter was persuaded to wait until the grand age of six. “That was the kind of precocious little brat I was,” Keira Knightley told People magazine. Last year, the actress posed topless in Interview magazine on the condition that she not be photoshopped, to draw attention to how “women’s bodies are a battleground and photography is partly to blame”. Knightley’s most recent box-office hit was as Joan Clarke, in The Imitation Game, a film based on the life of cryptanalyst Alan Turing …

Born in England in 1912, Turing is widely considered to be the father of theoretical computer science and artificial intelligence. By the age of 14, he could solve advanced maths problems without having studied calculus and, aged 16, he was reading the works of Albert Einstein. Turing’s personal life wasn’t so simple – considered an oddball (for instance, he was known to chain his coffee mug to the wall to prevent it from being stolen), he was convicted in 1952 under the gross indecency law of 1885, which prohibited any form of sexual contact between men, even touching or kissing. In 1895, the same law had been used to jail Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wilde …

Famous as Oscar Wilde, the Irish playwright was one of the celebrities featured on the cover of the Beatles’ album Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (he’s peering over the shoulder of a bespectacled John Lennon). The flamboyant writer’s tomb was recently cleaned and restored by his family, who added a glass barrier to shield it from lip smacks bestowed by adoring fans. The author of celebrated works such as The Picture of Dorian Gray and The Importance of Being Earnest is buried in Paris’s Père Lachaise, the resting place of fellow theatre-lover Eugene Delacroix…

Born in 1798, Delacroix became one of the most controversial painters in France. In 1824, at the Paris Salon, he debuted the 14-foot-high canvas Massacre at Chios, which one critic at the time called “the massacre of painting”. In 1825, aged 27, after having attended a performance of Hamlet, Delacroix was moved to create Hamlet and His Father’s Ghost, and he subsequently dedicated a series of lithographs to the tragic character, created by William Shakespeare …

Born in 1564, the English poet, playwright and actor’s name is an anagram of “I am a weakish speller”. Shakespeare’s works have been translated into about 80 languages, the most obscure of which must be Klingon, spoken by the fictional race from the Star Trek universe. In 2013, what is thought to be the Bard’s last play, The Tempest, was staged by the American Ballet Theatre, led by artist-in-residence Alexei Ratmansky.