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International Concerts Presents Nina Ananiashvili and the State Ballet of Georgia at Avery Fisher Hall
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International Concerts Presents Nina Ananiashvili and the State Ballet of Georgia at Avery Fisher Hall

- Onstage with the Dancers: Special Events

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International Concerts

Nina Ananiashvili
The State Ballet of Georgia
(State Ballet of Georgia Web Page)

Nina Ananiashvili, Artistic Director
Gianluca Marciano, Music Director, Chief Conductor
Mikheil Makharadze, Costume Designer
Mariam Eristavi, Admin. Director, Ballet Company
Gvantsa Badurashvili, Coord., Relations with Foreign Partners
Niala Godziashvili, Stage Manager
Amiran Ananeli, Light Designer

Public Relations: Dan Dutcher, Cohn Dutcher Communications

Performed at Avery Fisher Hall
(Lincoln Center Website)

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
November 5, 2011

(See an Art Gallery Reception for Nina Ananiashvili)

Charms of Mannerism (1997): Choreography by Alexei Ratmansky, Music by F. Couperin, Arranged by Vladimer Grishin, Costume Designer: Mikheil Makharadze, Conductor: Gianluca Marciano, Performed by Nina Ananiashvili, Lali Kandelaki, Vasil Akhmeteli, William Pratt.

Tonight’s exciting program, exciting because Nina Ananiashvili’s fans hadn’t seen her since her 2009 Farewell with American Ballet Theatre, where she was a longtime principal, included three works by Alexei Ratmansky, the Russian wunderkind of ballet choreography. Mr. Ratmansky is resident choreographer at American Ballet Theatre, and he’s choreographed many works for New York City Ballet, as well. But, his three works seen tonight were rare retro works, although one was created in 2008. His Charms of Mannerisms brought out Ms. Ananiashvili immediately, and the mostly Russian audience roared. This was not only a chance to see New York’s Nina, again, but to also see her new Georgian State Ballet, based in her home country.

Four dancers perform sixteen variations on Couperin’s music, using 16th century Italian court gesture and style, with a dash of camp. They shifted through solos, duos, trios, and quartets, and added coy, flirtatious affectations. There were lyrical, light operatic motifs, pretending to swoon, connive, hide, and seek mimed revenge. The entire effect was innocent, bucolic, and endearing. It should be noted that this Company performed the work with no sets, no lighting effects, other than stark overhead, and a minimum of costuming ornamentation. However, as is common for visiting Eastern and Western European ballet companies, the dancers exuded ebullience, personality, and exceptional skill. Of course when Ms. Ananiashvili leaped and spun about, it was thrilling to see that she still has her pointe strength and limb stretch, as well as breathtaking elevation.

Bizet Variations (2008): Choreography by Alexei Ratmansky, Music by G. Bizet, Costume Designer: Mikheil Makharadze, Piano: Tamar Matchavariani, Performed by Anna Muradeli, Ekaterine Surmava, Ana Albutashvili, Vasil Akhmeteli, David Ananeli, Otar Khelashvili.

Ms. Ananiashvili took a break for the Bizet Variations. But, this was an opportunity to meet five new dancers, plus one who had just left the stage. Three couples dance rapturously with romantic, refined gestures. Mr. Ratmansky does not embellish the uncluttered choreography, but rather enhances it with lilting elegance from within. Each couple took the bare stage and magnetically drew the audience’s fascination.

SWAN (originally choreographed, Fokine, 1905): Staged by R. Struchkova, Music by C. Saint-Saëns, Performed by Nina Ananiashvili.

After intermission, the highpoint, the coup de grace took place, and I thought Fisher Hall would explode. As Nina had retired in her white swan Odette costume, here she was, over two years later, in a similar white swan costume, as the Dying Swan, set to the infamous Saint-Saëns score. Nina didn’t dance just one full round of the music, but two, yes, two. Although it lists “staging”, I’m sure Nina worked this choreography herself. She’s known for her undulating arms, seemingly boneless, and tonight she did not disappoint. For the first time around, she entered stage left with her back facing the audience, and the second time she entered with her face and torso facing us, arms still quivering like waves.

The first dying sequence was sharp and dramatic, while the second was drawn out, melancholy, predictable. There seemed some improvisation, which excites her fans even to greater delirium. It’s a psychic and palpable connection between Nina and the audience that was always so appreciated. Years ago I remember Nina always throwing flowers to the orchestra, always offering a long-stem rose to the conductor, always throwing kisses and coming back out for bow after bow. Sometimes I ventured to the stage exit area, and there was Nina, embracing her fans. Tonight, Nina’s fans embraced her, with rousing accolades, after her SWAN encore.

Dreams about Japan (1998): Choreography by Alexei Ratmansky, Music by Eto, N. Yamaguchi, A. Tosha, Staged by Alexei Fadeyechev, Costume Designer: Mikheil Makharadze, Conductor: Gianluca Marciano, Performed by Philippe Solano, Lali Kandelaki, Ana Albutashvili, William Pratt, Nina Ananiashvili, Vasil Akhmeteli, David Ananeli.

What a surprise to see Ms. Ananiashvili once again, dancing in such a prominent and taxing role, that was originally created for the Bolshoi, with additional stars from the Mariinsky Theatre, as well. Four Kabuki plays are re-enacted in dance, with live musicians onstage with Asian percussion that fills Fisher Hall. The Georgian musicians wear Japanese costumed ornamentations, really adorable and authentic. Nina is the Fire Snake, in a red, total unitard, looking gorgeous. And, in this sleek body costume, she dances up a storm, with her story ballet mastery, theatrically seizing the stage, like fire, itself.

The four Kabuki dramas involve a girl mourning a “lost love and sad destiny” (“Sagi Musume”), a “double possession”, with half-men and half-women, their souls, and an evil spirit (“Futa Omote”), a monk who is killed for rejecting a maiden, who becomes the Fire Snake (“Musume Dojoji”), and dances to death caused by a lion mask (Kagami Jishi”). In addition to Ms. Ananiashvili’s seething Snake, a highpoint was Philippe Solano’s girl, who mourns her lost love, an amazing trick of casting. David Ananeli, in the lion mask dance to death, grippingly brought the ballet toward its finale.

Kudos to the State Ballet of Georgia, kudos to Alexei Ratmansky, and kudos to Nina Ananiashvili. And, thanks to International Concerts for this exciting special event..

Nina Ananiashvili in
Ratmansky's "Dreams about Japan"
Courtesy of Christian Miles
for International Concerts

Nina Ananiashvili and Vasil Akhmeteli in
Ratmansky's "Dreams about Japan"
Courtesy of Christian Miles
for International Concerts

Nina Ananiashvili in
Ratmansky's "Dreams about Japan"
Courtesy of Christian Miles
for International Concerts

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at