Nina Ananiashvili in the State Ballet of Georgia's Don Quixote.
The State Ballet of Georgia, the acclaimed young national company of the former Soviet republic, will make its New York debut next winter at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. The troupe, led by artistic director (and world-renowned ballerina) Nina Ananiashvili, will give four performances at BAM's Howard Gilman Opera House between February 27 and March 2, 2008 as part of its first nationwide United States tour.
On the company's programs at BAM will be a piece by San Francisco Ballet choreographer-in-residence Yuri Possokhov (set to traditional Georgian choral music, performed live), George Balanchine's Chaconne, and two works by Bolshoi Ballet artistic director Alexei Ratmansky: Dreams About Japan (featuring percussionists from the Bolshoi Theatre Orchestra) and a yet-untitled world premiere. (Ananiashvili will perform in two ballets on each date.) In addition, at several other stops on the tour (which include Berkeley, Santa Barbara, Los Angeles, Chicago, Iowa City and Minneapolis), Ananiashvili will dance the title role in Giselle, one of her signature parts.
The recent history of the State Ballet of Georgia is a remarkable tale of rebirth. The company had fallen dormant in the wake of the civil war, economic turmoil and social unrest that plagued Georgia following its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. In 2004, the republic's new president, Mikhail Saakashvili, invited Ananiashvili — a star of American Ballet Theatre and one of Georgia's most internationally prominent artists in any discipline — to come home to Tbilisi and revive the troupe.
In the three years since then, Ananiashvili has developed a company that has earned enthusiastic plaudits from critics and audiences at home and abroad, performing such classic ballets as Ashton's La Fille mal gardée and Bournonville's Swan Lake and Don Quixote as well as contemporary dances by the likes of Stanton Welch and Alexei Ratmansky. (The State Ballet's repertoire also includes ten works by Balanchine, né Georgi Balanchivadze.)
The State Ballet of Georgia made its U.S. debut last month with acclaimed performances at the Spoleto Festival USA in South Carolina, the New Haven Festival of Arts & Ideas in Connecticut and Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival in Massachusetts. Upon seeing the company at Jacob's Pillow, Alastair Macaulay wrote in The New York Times, "Ms. Ananiashvili's Georgians prove to be accomplished and stylish ... the sheer polish of the men is striking ... Put these dancers on a big stage with live music and they can do Georgia proud."
The schedule for the State Ballet of Georgia's winter 2008 U.S. tour is as follows:
February 14-17 - Berkeley, CA - Cal Performances
February 19 - Santa Barbara, CA - UC Santa Barbara
February 21-24 - Los Angeles, CA - UCLA
February 27-March 2 - Brooklyn, NY - Brooklyn Academy of Music
March 5-9 - Chicago, IL - Auditorium Theatre
March 11 - Iowa City, IA - University of Iowa
March 14-15 - Minneapolis, MN - University of Minnesota
The State Ballet of Georgia in Balanchine's Serenade.