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drb

Georgia State Ballet

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Nina continues to direct her company in Tblisi. This weekend's program will feature

1. Trey McIntyre's Second Before the Ground

2. Three Balanchine PdD's:

Tarantella

Duo Concertante

Tchaikovsky PdD

3. Alexei Ratmansky's Dreams about Japan

A pre-performance article from Georgia Today:

http://www.georgiatoday.ge/article_details.php?id=1002

An interview with Bart Cook on setting the ballets on the company appears in Ballet News Discussion, the Calegari & Cook thread.

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Thanks much for this, drb. Sounds like Nina has an adventurous vision for her company! :thanks:

Program has wide-ranging variety -- from African inspiration, to Japanese themes, to a little Balanchinian taste of Napoli!

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A four performance run of Giselle is currently in progress. The ballet was set on the company by Alexei Fadeyechev and Tatyana Rastorgueva. An interview, primarily with Mr. Fadeyechev, follows:

http://www.georgiatoday.ge/article_details.php?id=1058#

The photo of Nina with the two affords a look at the ballerina about one month after giving birth. It can be enlarged (if the "click" to enlarge doesn't work, it can be copied and reviewed in your computer's picture system): amazing how ballerinas can look like this so quickly after! I wonder if her promised return to dancing will be back at ABT or with her company (her site does promise a tour)?

An excerpt from Mr. Fadeyechev's interview:

It comes as no surprise that all artists are very moody and their primadonna behavior can be difficult to stomach. “They can be very temperamental and as a group leader it falls under your responsibility to maintain a decent level of communication between the group members. It is difficult and can be really draining.” Alexei admits that while in Russia this is relatively controlled, the local dancers are more difficult to temper. “At the Bolshoi there are deep-rooted traditions of dance. Here the traditions are also present, and ballet-wise they’re related to Vakhtang Chabukiani, founder of the Georgian ballet group.” Alexei laughingly stresses he was a legend of the Soviet, not Georgian ballet.
Edited by drb

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Nina offers her support to a Georgian newspaper, in appreciation of their support for her ballet company, but also as a political statement (she is a significant political figure in the country, as a member of the television governing board, and as a descendant of the pre-revolutionary Royal family). A nice photo of Nina (Nino in Georgian) included:

http://www.georgiatoday.ge/article_details.php?id=1079#

Here is an interesting illustrated piece on Georgian art history, which may help place her dedication to the arts in Georgia in historic context:

http://www.georgiatoday.ge/articles.php?ca...ure&version=298

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The photo of Nina with the two affords a look at the ballerina about one month after giving birth. amazing how ballerinas can look like this so quickly after!

She looks a bit wan to me in the photograph---she still has a way to go.

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Many of you are aware that the situation in Russia against Georgians (and other people of ethnic minorities) has recently turned very ugly. For example, last week, Nina Ananishvili's Georgian State Ballet troupe was forced to abruptly cancel its Moscow & St. Petersburg appearances.

Here one link to an English-language newspaper. Much more has been published in Russian:

http://www.civil.ge/eng/article.php?id=13762

Please keep all non-Russian-ethnic artists who remain on Russian soil in your thoughts.

Moderators, feel free to move this to another thread, if more appropriate. I took a quick look in the Links page and saw no mention of the recent ouster of the Georgian Ballet company. Hence, this post.

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Thanks to Ms. Brown for that wonderful article & link.

I was in Moscow through last Saturday & the 'expulsion of non-Russians from Mother Russia' is the A#1 topic on TV & in the streets. Even Russian Citizens of Georgian/Caucasian extraction are being harrassed, businesses closed, etc. I was very saddened to read that the hatred reaches to the artistic community. I can only wonder if fabulous Russian-Citizen artists of minority heritage, such as Nikolai Tsiskaridze at the Bolshoi or Irma Nioradze at the Mariinsky (or Gergiev - from North Ossetia - not a separate Caucasus country but a unique ethnic minority, no less), will be safe?

I wonder what the spirit of Georgi Balanchivadze is thinking? Very sad situation.

p.s. - Saturday's murder of the famous St. Petersburg journalist, Anna Politkovskaya, is linked to all this, as Politkovskaya spoke-out against the Russian Government's mistreatment of ethnic minorities, in Chechnya and beyond.

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What sad news, it's upsetting to hear that the situation in Russia has become so ugly. I hope it doesn't deteriorate further

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Natalia,

I've been following this story with great interest, partly because the issues at hand intersect with my own work in other parts of the world. In any case, if anyone comes across news regarding how this is affecting the dancers, it would be welcome.

Ami

ps - random aside: you know those plastic rectangular 'market' bags that are really inexpensive? In West Africa they are called 'Ghana Must Goes' from the unexpected and quickly-executed expulsions of Ghanaians from Nigeria. Everytime I hear of expulsions like this I wonder what it might be like, packing up your most prized possessions in one, maybe two, Ghana Must Goes and upping and leaving in the same hour.

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Very sad and painfull news. The worse thing about this is that it is only one of so many sad news in the world. We think we live in a modern world but I have to say that so many things happening in the world today are STILL exactly the same as medieval time. Do people ever learn from history? :)

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These stories about the revival of Russian nationalism are indeed sad and quite scarey. It sounds awfully like the kinds of tensions and tribal rivalries that are at play in the area of the former Yugoslavia, though on a much vaster scale. Ismene Brown's wonderful piece tells us a great deal about the fall-out as it applies to ballet.

For example:

In Soviet times, scouts from Moscow and Leningrad regularly roamed into the USSR's furthest outposts, discovering children for free training - the Siberian Rudolf Nureyev, the Kazakhi Altynai Asylmuratova, the Uzbekh Farouk Ruzimatov and the Georgian Nina Ananiashvili, for example. Since the end of communism, regions have lost free access to the Mariinsky and Bolshoi schools, and increasingly the companies' profile is narrowing on to a north-western population.

I was interested that Anianisvili is not the only ballet super-star to attempt to create a viable ballet alternative outside the Russian northwest. Igor Zelensky is involved too:

The Mariinsky's male lead, Igor Zelensky, will take up the reins at Siberia's Novosibirsk Ballet this autumn - while thousands of miles away, in the heat of Georgia, the wondrous Bolshoi ballerina Nina Ananiashvili has already started her ballet revolution.
Siberia is part of Russia, while Georgia is now a separate and independent nation. But both are far from the traditional ballet centers of the former Empire and USSR. In Georgia, accoarding to the Brown piece, it will be necessary recruit boys, for whom national folk dancing is very popular, to classical training.

The lack of money at the governmental and private levels is a huge problem, but only one of many. Also, 10-20 years have passed -- a whole generation in the lives of ballet students -- from the last time the Soviet system actually functioned successsfully for ballet in the non-Russian republics of the former USSR.

Ananiashvilli and Zelensky are taking on heroic challenges. :) It's wonderful to see the Balanchine people --and, I assume, others involved in western ballet (the McIntyre Project, too ? ) -- giving so much support.

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The lack of money at the governmental and private levels is a huge problem, but only one of many. Also, 10-20 years have passed -- a whole generation in the lives of ballet students -- from the last time the Soviet system actually functioned successsfully for ballet in the non-Russian republics of the former USSR.

Sure it's a problem, but the system hasn't collapsed completely. St. Petersburg and Moscow, forced to deal with a westward talent drain, are still recruiting dancers from opera houses in Ukraine, for one. Leonid Sarafanov, now at the Mariinsky, graduated from the ballet school in Kiev in 2000 and danced at the opera house there for two years. Denis Matvienko, who guests at the Bolshoi and danced at the Mariinsky previously, graduated from the Kiev Ballet School in 1997. The Kiev Ballet School was still functioning well enough to produce Alina Cojocaru (1998), Ivan Putrov (1997) and more recently Sergiy Polunin. I don't think the year each spent at the Royal Ballet School could have compensated for a completely debased ballet education in Kiev. And don't forget about Svetlana Zakharova, who spent six years studying in Kiev and one in St. Petersburg.

Ballet companies the world over, but especially in Europe, include lots of non-Russian principals and soloists from the fSU, who received the bulk of their training in their home countries: in San Francisco - Tiit Helimets (Estonia) and Davit Karapetyan (Armenia); in Hamburg - Alexandre Riabko (Ukraine), Ivan Urban (Belarus) and Arsen Megrabian (Armenia); in Amsterdam - Ruta Jezerskyte (Lithuania) and Alexander Zhembrovskyy (Ukraine); in Vienna - Aliya Tanikpaeva (Kazakhstan), Irina Tsymbal (Belarus) and Mihail Sosnovschi (Moldova); in Stockholm - Elena Gorbatsch (Ukraine) and Andrey Leonovitch (Belarus). My sample certainly isn't comprehensive or scientific, and it doesn't take into account the dancers who are just starting their careers, but I think it illustrates a pattern in companies large and small. I predict that the number of dancers from the fSU working abroad, including non-Russians, is likely to grow. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if the prospect of finding a job with a European opera house wouldn't actually encourage parents to enrol their kids in ballet school. Of course, this exodus presents a huge problem for the ballet companies back home, but I don't think the problem lies in the training itself. Quite the opposite.

As for the recruitment of boys from folk dancing, this is a huge advantage eastern Europe has over North America. Many, many boys, especially in the Caucasus, enter ballet via folk dancing. North Americans may view ballet as effeminate, but the reputation of east European folk dance is certainly macho. If you've ever seen Georgian folk dancing, you know what I mean. It's just about the butchest form of dancing in all creation. For many years my mother has taught music in a public school. The music curriculum includes a modest dance component, primarily folk dances, social dancing and creative movement, which she has always augmented with the viewing of classical ballets and old movie musicals. Her school has a large population of Ukrainian children, and the vast majority of them, girls and boys, take lessons in Ukrainian folk dancing. The boys in particular love to show off their Cossack moves. Over time these kids begin doing a character barre, and if they stick with it long enough, they'll probably end up starting each lesson with a ballet barre. Perhaps they'll even take supplementary ballet classes. I'm not saying that my mother's former pupils include a bevy of professional male ballet dancers. Canada isn't exactly conducive to such a career. The same kids that take Ukrainian dance lessons also go to hockey school. (To the best of my knowledge, one of the boys did turn into a jazz bunny and spent some time dancing on a cruise line.) But you can see how it could this sort of exposure could lead to the serious study of ballet, if the necessary conditions are in place.

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North Americans may view ballet as effeminate, but the reputation of east European folk dance is certainly macho. If you've ever seen Georgian folk dancing, you know what I mean. It's just about the butchest form of dancing in all creation.
There's still a lot of dance I haven't seen, but I have had the great pleasure of seeing Georgian folk dancers, and while the women are hyperfeminine, the guys are darned near brutish! It was great fun!

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I just saw Giselle in New Haven, Connecticut Nina was great. The company was clean and limited only by the size of the stage. The males in the Pas de Six were spectacular. Nina and the company got well deserved cheers from her fans in New Haven. I think a local male actor was used as a super, I could see his lips counting the steps, and his costume did not fit at all.

The Corps was strong, very strong. well trained and excellent technique.

Costumes were simple, but traveled well. Great scenery.

My only complaint: Lousy recording, sounded like an old LP. Second complaint, I could hear the dancers talking, The Shubert has excellent acoustics!

I hope the New York dance critics took the train up to see a wonderful performance. They can still catch a performance tomorrow.

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Thank you for the review, MJ.

Unless a miracle happens, the closest to Seattle the company will get is Berkeley in February 2008. There's an opening night triple bill (Chaconne, a Possokhov to traditional Georgian music, and an American premiere of a Ratmansky ballet) following by three performances of Giselle. As it happens, San Francisco Ballet will be performing Giselle as well that weekend. It will be an interesting contrast. And Jordi Savall is also in Berkeley Saturday night, for a full weekend.

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My only complaint: Lousy recording, sounded like an old LP. Second complaint, I could hear the dancers talking, The Shubert has excellent acoustics!

...

I hope the New York dance critics took the train up to see a wonderful performance. They can still catch a performance tomorrow.

Oh, no - recorded music, how disapointing! It never occured to me that Nina's company would use recorded music for Giselle. That's a real shame.

I thnk the NY critics may have all been in New Haven tonight - I didn't see any of them at the Met for Vishneva's Manon. Of course, some of them could have been across the Plaza but I'll bet a few of them made the trip to CT.

Thanks for the review

Susan

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A) Can anyone give details of Ananiashvili's royal ancestry?

B) Georgian folk dance happens way on top of the foot, both men and women. Some think it's got to do with pointing the foot as part of the use of stirrups in horsemanship. The women bourree.

The male dancing is truly spectacular -- the Lezghinka is done on the knuckles of the toes, in soft-kid boots -- we're talking pointe but with no box, so the guys are knuckled over - -and then they throw themselves down onto their knees and bounce back up. There's a very fine Georgian folk company here in San Francisco, and the boys are stellar.

But it's ALSO worth noting that Marius Petipa was very proud of the way he danced the Lezghinka, and he was still doing it at 60.

C) Tolstoy's wonderful early book "The Cossaks" is really fun reading, and it's mostly about his participation as a soldier in Russia's attempts to extend influence over the Caucasus -- the situation in Chechnya (and Georgia) hasn't really changed at the deepest level since he wrote it -- and tolstoy having the amazing sympathies that he had, you can get a very good idea of how incredibly entrenched and fierce and independent-minded these mountain folk are, fabulous sneaks -- and even get some idea about mountain-folk everywhere -- roughly speaking, they're ALL of them (Basques, Welsh, Scots Chechnyans, Georgians, etc.) the descendants of proud peoples who've been over-run and forced to take refuge in the mountains, where they can maintain their independence and where they can cultivate their pride in the old ways and take pot-shots whenever they can at the conquerors....

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I just saw Giselle in New Haven, Connecticut Nina was great. The company was clean and limited only by the size of the stage. The males in the Pas de Six were spectacular. Nina and the company got well deserved cheers from her fans in New Haven. I think a local male actor was used as a super, I could see his lips counting the steps, and his costume did not fit at all.

The Corps was strong, very strong. well trained and excellent technique.

+1

only want to add the PRAISE to Sergey Filin. it was the duet of him and Nina that made me travel from NYC to see them. Totally enjoyed each and both of their dancing. He's a great dancer and caring partner ( ;-)) and I'd seen him before many times, he was as great as always).... I was almost tempted to travel again on Saturday ;-))

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