Nina Ananiashvili Rounds Up 164th Ballet Season, Looks ahead to the Next

This weekend the 164th Georgian ballet season will draw to a close with a performance of Balanchine’s Symphony in C, Concerto Barocco and Sir Frederick Ashton’s Marguerite and Armand on July 9th.

The Friends of the Georgian Ballet (FGB) met with Prima Ballerina and Artistic Director of the Georgian State Ballet, Nina Ananiashvili, and a selection of her multi-national soloists, to hear a round-up of the season and find out what’s on the calendar for next year.

The FGB is an enthusiast group of mostly expats who support the Ballet Company by offering donations, arranging charity performances and spreading the word of the Company’s talent. They also support the new generations of young Georgian dancers by offering student scholarships at the Chabukiani State Ballet School. On March 29 the FGB helped to organize the Japanese-Georgian “Sleeping Beauty” ballet gala at the Rustaveli Theater, there raising enough money to buy 80 rolls of much-needed specialized non-slip tape to seal down the lino in the dance studios at the School. The American Friends of Georgia, represented by Lena Kiladze, gave a one-year scholarship to a student of the School. Andreas Heidingsfelder, General Manager of the Sheraton Hotel Tbilisi, held a private party at which he asked guests to donate cash to the Friends of the Georgian Ballet. Altogether he raised over 1300 GEL. The FGB recently said a fond farewell to two of its most energetic and inspiring board members of the past years, Pirjo Turk and Caroline Wilkes, and now welcomes three new board members: Aleid Douma, Francesca Huemer Kelly and Enid Burki, who will work alongside existing members Orsolya Sarossy and Luba Protsiva.

At the meeting, which took place in the Blue Hall of the Opera House, Nina told us how she is particularly pleased with the development of her soloists this year. The dancers have excelled themselves, having enjoyed the second half of the season back “home” in the newly renovated Tbilisi State Opera House.

“The new Opera House has really broadened the possibilities of what we can achieve in a performance- the lights, technical aspects; everything is possible,” Nina said.

Finances, as always, are the limitation for the Company which, with a greater budget, would happily put into effect a number of initiatives to boost interest in the ballet and improve the material effects of the Company, such as costumes. One gripe Nina rightly has is the difficulty fans of Georgian ballet have in seeing the performances of their “Home team” abroad. “In the ten years we’ve been representing Georgia abroad there have been consistent problems for Georgians to get visas to come with us. Football fans can go abroad to support their teams, but the Arts suffer a disadvantage in this regard. We want our Georgian enthusiasts to be able to come with us on our tours to Japan, the US, Italy; to see for themselves how successful we are in the world beyond these walls!”

Soon, the Company will be travelling to the US to take part in the United States International Ballet Competition (USA IBC) 2016 Grand Prix Reunion Gala. Nina will be returning to dance the stage where she won the first City of Jackson Grand Prix Award in the 1986 USA IBC. Two years ago, on a visit, she promised the organizers to bring and show off her Company, which she is now able to do.

GEORGIA TODAY asked her about her plans for the 165th season of Georgian Ballet. “At the end of September we’ll be dancing Giselle, followed by a remake of the Balanchine program- Maria Calegari and Bart Cook will come to train and refresh the dancers. We’ll have a revival of Kylian, which my boys danced so beautifully this past season, and Don Quixote. It’s also my dream to have us stage Chabukiani’s Laurencia.”

Nina hopes to begin an annual Ballet Festival in Tbilisi and invite other companies to dance here, though this, of course, depends on the budget. The Company has tours planned in Spain, Japan, Estonia and possibly Finland.

The daily classes and rehearsals go on. To relax, aside from eating (which they all claim to be big fans of!) and spending time with their families, many of the dancers work on other artistic pursuits. “We have quite a few talented painters in the Company,” Nina says proudly. The idea of holding a sales-exhibition to raise funds is then suggested and members of the FGB board take eager note and start to brainstorm.

Some of the soloists have no time to relax at the end of the season- taking Nina’s lead in over-flowing energy by organizing their own events. Soloists Frank van Tongeren (the Netherlands) and Machi Muto (Japan), who came over to Georgia together after meeting Nina in Japan, will be holding a Ballet festival at the end of this month in Fukuoka, with members of the Georgian Company in attendance. More on that in next week’s GEORGIA TODAY.

Katie Ruth Davies

07 July 2016 20:21