Prima Ballerina Nino Ananiashvili on the State Ballet’s New Program & Kiev Tour

Exclusive interview

The Georgian State Ballet, led by Prima Ballerina Nino Ananiashvili, is to deliver a new program for the Tbilisi Opera and Ballet State Theater from 27 February to 30 June, promising distinguished productions as well as old favorites. The state ballet ensemble is currently touring Kiev, presenting a modern program to the Ukrainian audience.

Ananiashvili, a world-famous Prima Ballerina who was named among the 12 Greatest Ballerinas of All Time by The Telegraph, is met with grand celebration and admiration in many countries. She was awarded Japan’s Order of the Rising Sun and has been directing the Georgian troupe since 2004.

Before they headed off to Kiev, GEORGIA TODAY was lucky enough to get a peep inside the opera and attend one of the rehearsals. We were warmly welcomed by the Prima Ballerina who gave us an insight into the Georgian ballet and upcoming performances.

“We have prepared a contemporary program for our Kiev tour that includes Jirí Kylián’s Petite Mort, Sechs Tänze and Falling Angels, and Medhi, Walerski’s Petite Cérémonie. Although all members of the ensemble are classical ballet dancers, including such home-grown talents as Eka Surmava, Nutsa Chekurashvili, Nino Samadashvili, they perform it splendidly and are excited by the experiment. I’m glad our theater has permission to perform these productions, since not all troupes are allowed to dance them, and I’m doubly glad we are invited to tour the world with our contemporary shows.

“Kiev is a city with theatrical traditions that appreciates and loves art very much. Ukraine boasts many distinguished and gifted dancers, some of whom currently perform on various renowned stages worldwide. I remember dancing with bright Ukrainian star Denis Matvienko in Japan. Kiev always meets us with warmth and respect, and in response we try to show the audience new modern plays that are not included in their general program. This time we’re performing in the concert hall, which has a capacity of around 2000 people- twice as big as our opera! So this is big challenge and simultaneously an exciting experience for us. Such tours are important for our ballet company, since the dancers get to introduce themselves to the international audience and are charged with positive emotions and energy, something which is essential for a performer and serves as a great stimulus.”

In the past, when making an agreement, producers required Nina to dance in order to sell more tickets, since the Georgian State Ballet was not so widely known. Now they have made it and Nina will not be performing with them in Ukraine. Their renown is such that their troupe is made up of numerous nationalities aside from Georgian.

“Many dancers from different countries come to Georgia to be trained here, and eventually become members of our troupe,” Nino tells us. “We have dancers from Japan, the UK, Brazil, Greece, the USA and Korea. We have a lack of Georgian male dancers, and I would like to emphasize to young male dancing enthusiasts that this is very masculine profession that requires hard work and commitment. Ballet is a highly-appreciated field and it has immense potential all over the world!”

Tell us about the progress made by the Georgian State Ballet.

In the 1990s, Georgia experienced hard times, so no one had time for ballet, and it was somehow put to one side. Yet, there were people who despite all the obstacles stayed in the theater and worked passionately. These people are real heroes, since they worked enthusiastically when there was no electricity, no heating and no salary. Zurab Lomidze, who was Director of Tbilisi State Opera back then, saved our theater and did his best to keep it up and running. Even though I lived and worked abroad at the time, I would visit Tbilisi and tried to help and contribute to this process.

When I became Artistic Director of the National Ballet Ensemble of Georgia, it was very difficult to start from scratch, since everything needed restoration; the conditions were not the same in the opera as we have now. The actors and actresses sometimes didn’t even have money to get to the theater from different districts and even towns. Yet despite all these difficulties, they kept coming out of love for their jobs. I’m happy that today’s youth has not had to experience such hardship. Still some problems remain the same; the issue with the Tbilisi Ballet Art State School is still unsolved. Although we have 300 students and there is high demand, we cannot bring children from the regions as we don’t have a dormitory for them to stay in. We don’t have conditions to bring up and train small children and give them a profession from the age of eight. This is the main thing that concerns me right now. As for the theater itself, I try to transmit the knowledge and experience I have accumulated over the course of my career to the new generation. We try to maintain high quality, we are offered the chance to perform in many countries, and we plan to embark on bigger tours in future. We are working non-stop and we have many premieres in our agenda ahead.

Tell us what’s in store.

We have a new program with varied productions, including Laurencia by Vakhtang Chabukiani, The Sleeping Beauty and Romeo and Juliet. A lot of people living abroad told me they want to plan their trips to Georgia around our ballet shows, so we try to publish the agenda well ahead of time. And now theater and ballet enthusiasts can purchase season tickets to attend our performances and bring their kids as well.

Anything to add?

I’d like to say a big thank you to the Friends of the Georgian Ballet. It was established 10 years ago and counts wives of foreign diplomats serving in Georgia and other foreign ballet-lovers. From time to time, they attend our rehearsals and they assist us in many ways, be it festivals, competitions or scholarships for our students to study abroad. They are our great supporters. Our foreign audience is very active- they love and appreciate our performances. We, the whole team, work hard to exceed their expectations. Although currently we are doing well, I want our theater to have many more performances in the program to grab the growing interest and demand. Ballet and opera are fields of art that need no language, meaning anyone can enjoy them. So apart from sightseeing and sampling local cuisine, I invite our foreign guests to experience this part of our culture, like tourists go to La Scala or buy tickets in advance to get into the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden. When all the tickets are sold, it’s a great joy and stimulus for the troupe and dancers. Each spectator who buys a ticket is considered our sponsor and supporter, helping us to preserve this field of art in Georgia. So we are extremely thankful to each of them.

By Lika Chigladze

Photo by Merab Nikolaishvili


14 February 2019 19:50