Marylis Sevilla-Gonzaga


Nina Sighting in New York

There was a happy buzz in the audience at the Metropolitan Opera one evening in early June. Eagle-eyed ABT  fans had sighted Nina Ananiashvili among them---attending a performance instead  of dancing in one.  Many excitedly approached the superballerina to greet her, asking if by some lucky chance she had come to dance once more with ABT. Others, more realistically,  expressed how much they missed her onstage (she made her farewell to the company in 2009, in an  incandescent Swan Lake). Verbal bouquets like “There’s still no one like you” were thrown her way. This writer certainly agrees with them.

Nina was in New York City en route to Jackson, Mississippi, where she was on the 2014 jury of that city’s famed  USA International Ballet Competition.  Sweet memories must have been swirling in Nina’s mind. She had won the Grand Prix at the competition in 1986---along with Andris Liepa, her early partner on the world ballet stage.

Dedicated Nina followers know she still dances. Last November  she was guest artist with Japan’s K-Ballet, dancing three performances of Swan Lake with the company founded and directed by ballet great Tetsuya Kumakawa. She was partnered by Shuntaro Miyao in Tokyo and Osaka.

Nina Stages Ballets for Other Companies

Eager to share her wealth of knowledge and experience, Nina has spread her influential wings further than the performance stage. Nowadays, aside from serving on juries of international ballet competitions (the first week of August sees Nina on another jury, that of the Japan Grand Prix 12th International Junior Ballet Competition ---Aug. 4 – 8), the ballerina has begun staging ballets for companies other than State Ballet of Georgia, where she has been artistic director for the past ten years.

Her next production to reach the stage will be Don Quixote for Hong Kong Ballet. This Don Q will feature fresh choreographic ideas conceived by the ballerina, one of the most acclaimed Kitris of our generation. The performance premieres on August 22 at the Grand Theatre of HK’s Cultural Centre with Nina in attendance. In this and other stagings, she works with a team that includes Alexei Fadeyechev, ex-artistic director of the Bolshoi and one of her most constant partners in that company and on tours worldwide. Valuable assistance in these endeavours is provided by Ekaterina Shavliashvili, a former dancer with SBG and a teacher in the company’s school.

Another ongoing project will see a premiere in November: a revival of Vakhtang Chabukiani’s Laurencia for Bolshoi Theater of Belarus. This version will be slightly different from the one SBG has performed in recent years.  Along with new sets and costumes, it will incorporate the results of further research Nina has conducted, delving into the memories of dancers who saw or performed in the original production. As well, Nina has touched up some variations, always keeping to the style of her revered mentor Chabukiani. Performances (Nov. 1, 2) will be held in Minsk at the National Academic Bolshoi Opera and Ballet Theater of the Republic of Belarus.

Other Dances

At this stage of her career, Ashton’s heroine in Marguerite and Armand has become Nina’s favored role.  She just danced it at a ballet festival in Minsk in July, 2014.  The event, titled  “Ballet Summer in Bolshoi Theater,” featured State Ballet of Georgia and Bolshoi Theater of Belarus in joint performances.

The programs:

July 4  George Balanchine program: Concerto Barocco, Mozartiana and Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux.

July 5  Jiri Kylian program: Falling Angels, Petite Mort

July 7  Secret Garden (chor. Sasha Evtimova), Marguerite and Armand  (chor. Frederick Ashton), Sagalobeli (chor. Yuri Possokhov)

July 9  Gala with international stars

At State Ballet of Georgia

Under Nina’s leadership, the company continues to challenge itself---adding works by a wide range  of choreographers, both contemporary and those who have become the icons of modern ballet. The works of Frederick Ashton and George Balanchine hold center stage in many programs. On May 23, 2014, SBG marked the 110th anniversary of the Georgian-born master with a program that featured the company’s first performance of  Concerto Barocco plus the master’s Chaconne and Serenade.

SBG has gained further recognition outside Georgia, recently touring Spain and Lebanon. As well, the company has gained a more international flavor, recruiting foreign dancers who no doubt are inspired by Nina’s passionate commitment to ballet excellence.

To encourage and display SBG’s rising technical and artistic standards, Nina has been introducing promising dancers at international ballet meets; recently, two of her troupe won second prize at the 2014 Riga Spring competition: Giorgi Mahvenieradze and Mariam Eloshvili.

The recently concluded 162nd season saw the company presenting Act II of Swan Lake and Act III of Don Quixote featuring  home-grown ballerinas Ekaterina Surmava and Nino Samadashvili, with foreign artists Yonen Takano and Philip Fedulov.

As well as leading the company, Nina is also artistic director of the V. Chabukiani Tbilisi Ballet Art State School.  Three hundred students had a chance to go onstage for a May gala, which was highlighted by Nina’s version of Act II of The Fairy Doll. Students from the school (Lana Gogisvanidze, Nino Khakhutashvili, Keti Kobakhidze and Salome Leverashvili) participated in the recent Tanzolymp 2014 in Berlin, with Leverashvili winning second prize as soloist.

For the highly anticipated re-opening of Tbilisi’s  main opera and ballet venue, the Z. Paliashvili Theater, set for December 2014, Nina is envisioning  a big gala. The 163rd season of the company will see a revival of another Chabukiani gem---his 1949 ballet Gorda, with music by David Toradze.

The Lavrovsky version of  Romeo and Juliet is also on the agenda for SBG’s next season.  N.B. NINA FANS: She  plans to perform in this ballet, most likely in March 2015, around the time of her 52nd birthday. It could well be her last appearance in an evening-length ballet.  Although she can probably still out-pirouette ballerinas half her age, Nina is right to bow out of the spotlight in this lyrical work which now, more than ever, she dances with deep dramatic and emotional insights.

See you in Tbilisi!