Excerpted from KOMMERSANT, by Tatiana Kuznetsova, 07/24/04

The President of Georgia could not have made a better choice. Nina Ananiashvili is perhaps the only person capable of lifting the once renowned Georgian Ballet out of its current doldrums. The ballerina has a wonderful professional reputation, extensive connections abroad, and intelligent artistic taste.

Nina Ananiashvili revealed her uncommon leadership potential while still a leading dancer at the Bolshoi. Her long-time partner Alexey Fadeyechev, the Artistic Director of the company during the fruitful 1998-2000 seasons, enjoyed Ananiashvili’s tangible, though unofficial support. Her connections made it possible for the Bolshoi to acquire and adequately present its first ever Balanchine program.

The offer to head the withering Tbilisi-based company came to Ananiashvili directly from the Georgian President, Mikhail Saakashvili. Miss Ananiashvili accepted it with great feeling. “From now on my life is going to change completely. I am sure that if the desire is there, anything is possible, and that is why each person must make a contribution to bring about a flourishing Georgia”, said the patriotic ballerina.

Mikhail Saakashvili promised to find the funds necessary to restore the national ballet, “even though the budget available will be much smaller than the budget for Moscow-based productions”. Nina Ananiashvili promised the President that in three years (the term of her contract) she will give Tbilisi a European-level ballet company.