Vakhtang Chabukiani Celebration


Georgia is marking the 100th birth anniversary of ballet legend Vakhtang Chabukiani with a series of events in Tbilisi from October 20 to 24, 2010.

Chabukiani (March 12, 1910 - April 5, 1992, Tbilisi) became a leading star with the Kirov/Mariinsky Ballet in the 1920s through the early 1940s. His incomparable virtuoso technique and vivid stage presence made him the ideal heroic figure in Soviet-era creations such as “Flames of Paris” (1932) and “Fountain of Bakhchisarai” (1934). He foreshadowed the careers of Rudolf Nureyev and Mikhail Barysnikov. Chabukiani, who also excelled as a choreographer, gave male ballet artists more prominence as dancers---rather than mere partners---creating ballets, solos and variations that showed off his bravura technique and dramatic capabilities. For those too young to have seen him live, enough film footage exists to give convincing evidence of his prowess. (Two particularly good tributes are currently on YouTube: Google his name to get to “Tribute for the 100th Anniversary” and “The Wizard of Dance.”

After retiring from the stage, he continued his career as a ballet master and teacher; he restaged 19th century classics in Russia, adding challenging steps and extending variations to enhance the male roles. Among his last male pupils is Igor Zelensky, who still dances with the Mariinsky, and who was a principal with New York City Ballet for many seasons.

When Nina started her ballet training in Tbilisi, she was tutored by her legendary countryman.

Events planned in October include performances by the State Ballet of Georgia of “Laurencia,” choreographed by Chabukiani (see review of 2007 revival elsewhere on this website) and “Don Quixote.” There will also be a gala concert. Dancers from American Ballet Theatre, Royal Ballet, Covent Garden, Mariinsky and Bolshoi Ballets will be featured in these presentations.

A photo exhibition and the publication of a book are also on the schedule. As well, there is an ongoing contest for the design of a monument to be placed in the garden of the Opera and Ballet State Theater, currently under renovation.

See the website of State Opera and Ballet of Georgia for details. Please check back here for more specific information, particularly Nina’s dance roles in these celebrations.

See review, report and photos.