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State Ballet of Georgia - Mixed Bill


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#1 ggobob

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Posted 16 February 2008 - 03:36 PM

The mixed bill, which I saw on Thursday in Zellerbach Hall on the UC Berkeley campus, was mind numbing. Rachel Howard in the SF Chronicle (see Links for Friday 2/15) does her best to find words of hope; I hope for better when I see Giselle tonight. And, since I do my best not to be negative and do believe the dancers are capable of better, will let Ms. Howard's opinion stand.

#2 Treefrog

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Posted 16 February 2008 - 04:43 PM

I'm curious to hear how they do in "Giselle". It's a good thing I got my tickets for "Don Quixote" (March 6 in Chicago) yesterday, before I read your review and Rachel Howard's. I'm thinking, though, that Don Q sounds like a more comfortable vehicle for this company than the Balanchine.

#3 Natalia

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Posted 18 February 2008 - 06:34 AM

Oh dear...just saw this. I wonder if I should follow-through with my trip to Brooklyn, NY, in two week's time to see the mixed bills? Aw, what the heck -- it's my first chance to see Georgia's national classical ballet live & in person. Their folk troupe (the much-heralded Sukhashvili) is amazing so the classical group can't be too far off the mark, I reckon.

#4 ggobob

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Posted 18 February 2008 - 06:47 AM

I would definitely recommend taking a look at this company. It is a new company in the sense that it represents a new nation and has lots of political support to grow. There is talent on stage, it is just that it is raw. I give it credit for attempting things (e.g. Chaconne) that it isn't quite prepared for.

There were technical problems that undermined the performance I saw - especially the lighting. Musically, the orchestra was uninspired (inspiration was back for Giselle).

#5 zerbinetta

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Posted 29 February 2008 - 09:50 PM

Oh dear...just saw this. I wonder if I should follow-through with my trip to Brooklyn, NY, in two week's time to see the mixed bills? Aw, what the heck -- it's my first chance to see Georgia's national classical ballet live & in person. Their folk troupe (the much-heralded Sukhashvili) is amazing so the classical group can't be too far off the mark, I reckon.


Natalia, if you haven't already left, I would urge you to stay home. It would be one thing if the performance were just a bus trip away but the time and expense of a trip to see a company that is clearly not ready for prime time may not be justified.

They'll be back .. at a theater near you.

#6 Natalia

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Posted 01 March 2008 - 04:00 AM

Thanks, zerbinetta but...the bag is packed, the flight for La Guardia leaves at 10, hotel room at Marriott-BrooklynBridge is waiting...I'm off to Beautiful Downtown Brooklyn! Wheee!!!!!! :)

#7 Brice

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Posted 01 March 2008 - 10:07 AM

Loved, loved Nino Gogue...she is one to watch!

#8 aurora

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Posted 01 March 2008 - 11:17 AM

Loved, loved Nino Gogue...she is one to watch!


Seconded! She was clearly the highlight of the evening (besides Nina herself).


Chaconne was pretty disasterous I thought. Nina was lovely, but the rest...oof. It was the level of a student performance. the girl in green (tsisia Cholokashvili) kept falling out of all her pirouettes, though at least she carried herself like a professional dancer (and was much better in Sagalobeli)

I was very ambivalent going forward, but I found the rest of the show very enjoyable--surprisingly so after Chaconne (so probably a good one for them to schedule first). I am interested in hearing what people think of "Dreams of Japan" which will replace it for the final 2 performances of the run.

Duo Concertant--with Lasha Khozashvili and Nino Gogua--was lovely. I am not very knowledgeable about Balanchine so perhaps Balanchine experts would have various issues with style, but I thought Nino was beautiful. Really the only dancer besides Nina that you could imagine in a top notch company---Gorgeous feet, lovely extensions and a great sense of movement and rhythm. I loved the piece and the dancing.

Bizet Variations was enjoyable but not a knockout. I don't actually have much to say about it.

Sagalobeli was my favorite after Duo Concertant--Again Nino G was great, and the other two leads--Tsisia and Anna Muradeli were also very good in this. The choreography was innovative and clever, and worked very well with the music (which I loved, though not nearly as much as the Georgians in the audience,who were ecstatic--the woman behind me was singing along in places). It was clearly "ballet," but also involved innovative movements based on the rhythms of the music and its folk nature. I know it has gotten sort of mixed reviews but I thought it was pretty wonderful, and a great closing piece, though I do wish Nina had come out at the end.

Can't wait to hear other opinions

#9 zerbinetta

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Posted 01 March 2008 - 08:57 PM

Yes, indeed, the Chaconne was a disaster. Worse, it was unrecognizable. Even Nina, who had some fine moments, did not seem to be dancing Balanchine,. Odd, since she was so fine in Mozartiana. But she was coached by Suzanne in Mozartiana & by Calegari/Cook in Chaconne. That questing, thrusting front leg in the supported maneuvers lost its meaning.

The lute trio was all over the place. All three were overparted and the lute seemed to have a six foot neck.

The little duet pair couldn't even manage simplified choreography. The less said about this the better.

The Marzipan-like section worked best for me, with the lead girl having some promise (if she is young).

Doing this piece was no favor to the company. It is way beyond them at this point.

The Duo Concertant was sort of okay, save the dreadful violinist. Too much Indicating of emotion in an effort to "explain" the piece to us and Gogua (again, if she's young) very promising with a lovely body, great feet and the most beautiful knees I've seen in a long time.

The Ratmansky & Possokov pieces fared much better, probably because they were done on these dancers and lovingly crafted on their capabilities.

The audience was enthusiastic. On the way out I looked at faces. The majority of them seemed to have roots in the area of Georgia. They went home happy. We did not.

This company is not yet ready for the big leagues. Perhaps in five to ten years, with stringent teaching and coaching and a school they will be worth revisiting.

For now, you see far better dancing from students at SAB and at ABT 2.

#10 aurora

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Posted 01 March 2008 - 09:38 PM

The Duo Concertant was sort of okay, save the dreadful violinist. Too much Indicating of emotion in an effort to "explain" the piece to us and Gogua (again, if she's young) very promising with a lovely body, great feet and the most beautiful knees I've seen in a long time.


According to the playbill (or BAMbill) she's 23-4 (born in 1984).

I would like to see her in more. her feet were gorgeous and I was very pleased with her extensions--high but not distorted.

#11 Natalia

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Posted 03 March 2008 - 03:59 AM

I'm back in DC and extremely pleased to have traveled to Brooklyn to see Program B (Dreams of Japan, Duo C, Bizet Var, Sagalobeli) on Saturday night.

Listing the ballets from best to least effective, IMO:

Sagalobeli, with its haunting Georgian folk melodies, was the undisputed highlight for me. Possokhov has choreographed a real winner that shows off the unique qualities of this troupe of gazelle-like women and 'manly men.' Possokhov was wise in not attempting to simply "do" folk dancing, ballet style. Nobody can touch Georgia's premier cultural dance-movement export to the world - the incomparable Sukhishvili Georgian Folk National Dance Troupe, so to have made this a Sukhisvili in pointe shoes would not have worked. Rather, Possokhov has chosen to choreograph flowing movement to beautiful music, with very few 'folksy' traits. I especially loved the line of silhouetted corps ladies, snaking its way across the stage during an early number. The Spartacus-like fighting men, complete with ropes, reminded me of the Caucasus warriors of the Sukhishvili troupe, without immitating them.

Dreams of Japan, one of Ratmansky's early ballets that I saw in Russia about 10 years ago with the original cast, is a very clever work for an ensemble of 7 soloists, loosely based on Japanese folk traditions, set to familiar Kodo Drummers melodies (Canadian Elvis Stojko has skated to all of them, I think). This is the ballet that best serves the company's prima & artistic director, Nina Ananiashvili, who is as powerful as I recall 10 years ago, especially as a Japanese sort of Firebird character -- actually a 'Fire Snake' -- in red unitard. Sergei Filin, a guest from the Bolshoi, repeated his role as the headband-wearing male lover in the 'Double Exposure' expisode. But it's young Tsitsia Cholokhashvili in Tatyana Terekhova's role as the vengeful jilted wife, who made the most impact, with her spitfire manner and spiffy fouettes.

Ratmansky's newer offering, Bizet Variations, is a fluffy, blue-chiffon sort of work for three couples that doesn't offend but doesn't make any point. Nice puffy dancing from the two secondary couple, breezing around the seniors - so what? Gorgeous-faced (Lunkina look-alike), lithe Nino Ochiauri was the stand-out here. Whoever designed Ananiashvili's matronly costume should be shot; it broke my heart to see this esteemed ballerina looking like an overweight veteran hauled around by the tallest guy in the company, especially next to the two other ballerinas in more-flattering sleeveless chiffon.

Duo Concertant -- Balanchine's famous ballet for a dancing couple + violinist + pianist -- was well danced; Stravinsky's lovely score was well played; the spotlights behaved (unlike reports of earlier performances). The problem is with the style -- namely, Nino Gogua's diva-like mugging throughout the piece, more interested in impressing us in the audience than her fine partner, Lasha Khosashvili. Then I remembered that this appears to be the Eastern tradition in performing Balanchine -- to primp and show teeth, as if performing the Sugarplum Fairy. Thoughts of Assylmuratova (and many another Kirov-Mariinsky ballerina) as Terpsichore came to mind...no no no!!!!

So it was a fine introduction to a newish company that is showing great promise. If they ever return to the USA it should be with their unique full-evening-ballet treasure: Chabukiani's Laurencia. That fabulous ballet -- containing 80% of Chaboukiani's original choreography, with missing segments set by a local choreographer last April -- should be the Georgian Ballet's calling card, rather than its half-baked Balanchines.

p.s. Where, oh where, was their 'technical prima,' Lali Kandelaki? My biggest dissappointment of the weekend is in not having seen the famous 'spinning Lali' who will forever be associated with the 2000 Varna Competition, in my mind!

p.s.s. The Georgian troupe seems to be milking the 'George Balanchine Had Georgian Roots" thing for all it's worth. Does anybody know if George Balanchine EVER ser foot in Georgian Territory in his life? Did he ever do Georgian 'cultural things' back in the USA? All I've read about is that he was "RUSSIAN through and through" -- cooking Russian food, celebrating Russian holidays, going to the Russian church, etc. ('though Georgians are mostly Orthodox too, I realize). GB's brother, Andrei (the composer) *did* go back to the Caucasus and was one of the founders of this troupe but isn't claiming GB for themselves a bit of a stretch? Not that they can't acquire GB's works like any other worthy ballet troupe on earth.

#12 YID

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Posted 03 March 2008 - 07:03 AM

I'm back in DC and extremely pleased to have traveled to Brooklyn to see Program B (Dreams of Japan, Duo C, Bizet Var, Sagalobeli) on Saturday night.
Whoever designed Ananiashvili's matronly costume should be shot; it broke my heart to see this esteemed ballerina looking like an overweight veteran hauled around by the tallest guy in the company, especially next to the two other ballerinas in more-flattering sleeveless chiffon.

Sorry, I couldn't resist responding, and please dont' kill me... I do like Nina a lot (regretfully, first time I saw her dancing live was last year, but then at least 3 times, with ABT and then in Gizelle with Filin in New Haven....)
Natalia, Nina has to wear sleeves this year. I saw her (from first row) on Wednesday in a sleeveless dress, and it was not me, but my neighbors who commented on the condition of her arms (I will not say more, you are all smart people). But transparent or skin colored sleeves eliminate that distortion...
And I do like her a lot, and her arms are still very marvelous and graceful. And i am not judging, I wish I can be in such shape at 44 after a baby and flying all over the world
And I adore her as a person, and take my head off for her contribution to her country. I appreciate her showing more of her company than herself in the final applause calls on Wednesday night, when she went out in a (civil) dress wearing hills ;-)

I saw the program on Wednesday and loved Posokhov's piece A LOT, admired Nina Gogua... Then came back on Saturday to watch Dreams of Japan - I liked it (and seeing Filin's jumps is such a delight).

#13 Natalia

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Posted 03 March 2008 - 07:22 AM

YID, don't worry. I think that we totally agree. I absolutely understand Nina's need to not stay backstage at this moment, for marketing reasons. I sure hope that she doesn't let it drag on forever a-la Alonso or Plisetskaya.... or like the unnamed NYCB ballerina who I tried like heck to avoid this past week in DC! :cool:

#14 Treefrog

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Posted 03 March 2008 - 07:43 AM

Advice time, please. After purchasing the two tickets to Don Quixote for next Sunday, it turns out that my daughter's friend would like to attend also. Should I bother to buy a third ticket (for myself) or just let the girls go? They will have a ton of fun, and will think it all marvelous (they are 16). I am worried that I will regret spending the $80.

#15 Natalia

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Posted 03 March 2008 - 07:57 AM

Treefrog, I would go. The Georgians are a good (not yet great) company & I bet that the corps dances DON Q with gusto. Just don't go expecting to see the 'Nina of yesteryear,' that's all.


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