In the fall of 2003, Nina had a full slate at the Bolshoi, dancing in the company’s versions of Don Quixote, Swan Lake, The Nutcracker and Ashton’s La Fille Mal Gardée. On November 6, she portrayed Petipa’s Raymonda (see review section) with Sergei Filin.

 

 

 

Nina’s Japanese fans had a treat in February 2004, when “Nina  and Friends,” which included Bolshoi stars Inna Petrova, Dmitri Belogolotsev, Sergei Filin, Yuri Kletsov and Andrei Uvarov, toured Japan with excerpts from Swan Lake plus Stanton Welch’s Green and Trey McIntyre’s Second Before the Ground.

 

 

 

At London’s Sadler Wells Theatre the following month, the tour program included Alexei Ratmansky’s Leah and Dreams About Japan plus Ben Stevenson’s Three Preludes.

 In April, Nina essayed the title role in Royal Danish Ballet’s new Anna Karenina, before making a belated but heartily welcomed debut in Santiago, Chile, in Swan Lake.

The novelty of ABT’s 2004 spring season at the Metropolitan Opera was a rather Disneyesque version of Raymonda, which Nina transcended. More rewarding for artist and audience were the ballerina’s performances in Balanchine’s Mozartiana and Ballet Imperial.

2004 marked a turning point in Nina’s life. At the invitation of Georgia’s President Mikhail Saakashvili, she took on the responsibilities of Artistic Director of State Ballet of Georgia.

By October of that year, Nina had installed a new administrative staff and started revamping SBG’s repertory. Her presence and the renewed, generous support of the Georgian government lifted the dancers’ morale. New ballets and new stagings of standard repertory were quickly put in place---works by Welch, Ratmansky, Ashton (La Fille Mal Gardée, The Two Pigeons) and Balanchine (Serenade, Apollo, Western Symphony) (See Photos) were some challenges that the company conquered with the help of especially invited ballet masters and coaches from world renowned companies.

At the same time, Nina was working on an even bigger production---trying to have a baby. Ballerinas normally put off having children in order to concentrate on their career, and Nina had followed this path. However, she had always wanted a child and knew her biological clock was running out. At the advise of her physician, she took time off from dancing in order to allow her body to build up enough fat to support a pregnancy. On February 14, 2006, a baby girl, Helene Vashadze (Heleniko) was born. No set of parents could have been more rapturous than Nina and Gregory.

 

 

Nina did not return to the stage until April 19, 2007, in a memorable Swan Lake with SBG in Tbilisi (see review section).  Meanwhile, the doting new mother nurtured her child and Georgia’s reinvigorated ballet company. She rejoined ABT at the Metropolitan Opera for its spring season, dancing her accustomed roles and particularly, Odette/Odile with glorious technical command and artistry. She also led SBG in its first U.S. appearances---the company was seen in Swan Lake at the Spoleto Festival, Giselle in upstate New York and, at Jacob’s Pillow, a mixed bill of Mozartiana, Second Before the Ground and a Grand Divertissement from Don Quixote.

 

A tour of Japan in summer 2007 (with Swan Lake and Don Quixote) was followed by another SBG tour of the U.S. in winter 2008, highlighted by performances at New York’s Brooklyn Academy of Music (See Review). The program at BAM included new works by Ratmansky (Bizet Variations) and Yuri Possokhov (Sagalobeli). 

During the regular season in Tbilisi, the company added more Ashton ballets to its repertory (May 2008; See Photos), including Marguerite and Armand, originally created for Margot Fonteyn and Rudolf Nureyev. Thus, Nina joined the handful of ballerinas who have been privileged to dance Marguerite after Fonteyn. By August, the company was on the road again----representing Georgia at Scotland’s Edinburgh Festival, where Nina danced two Giselles.

 

 

2008 proved momentous for Georgia and SBG. Just as the company was ending its appearance at Edinburgh Festival, fighting broke out between Georgian and Russian forces in the disputed border areas between the two nations. It was only with the concerted efforts of Western European countries and the U.S. that Russia was prodded to withdraw its forces. With aplomb, SBG carried on its planned season, even managing the Jiri Kylian premiere in October.
Nina had earlier announced that 2009 would be her final season as a regular principal ballerina with American Ballet Theater---and so it was with hearts full of emotion that her New York fans gathered for each precious performance from May to June. At the opening gala Ratmansky offered a “piece d’occasion” titled Waltz Masquerade, which had Nina’s ABT partners vying for her attention. Performances in Le Corsaire, Giselle, La Sylphide and Mozartiana preceded one final Swan Lake (June 27). See links to reviews, and Friends of Nina report. (Photos)

 

Of course, Nina isn’t hanging up her toe shoes just yet. At age 46, she can still out-dance many ballerinas half her age. But, she has her own exacting standards to live up to and she has wisely been shedding roles in recent years. The first to go was Marie (Clara) in The Nutcracker (See Photos)because she did not think she could continue to portray a pre-teenager convincingly. She has also performed her last complete Don Quixote (June 2008; See Photos)---although she will continue to dance the Grand Pas from that ever-in-demand warhorse.

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