The State Ballet Of GeorgiaPosted on: 28 August 2008 by Gareth Hargreaves
Giselle and a Mixed Bill including Bizet Variations, Duo Concertant, Sagalobeli and more at the 2008 Edinburgh Festival.
The most eagerly awaited event at Edinburgh was the appearance of the State Ballet of Georgia, founded in the tradition of grand classical ballet which has reached new heights under the artistic direction of Nina Ananiashvili, principal ballerina of the Bolshoi, who is revered for her purity of line, musicality and impeccable phrasing, and the opening programme Giselle (Playhouse Theatre) more than exceeded expectations.
This is a story of love, betrayal, madness and the supernatural, of a young woman’s steadfast devotion to her faithless lover. Village girl Giselle falls in love with a young man she knows only as Loys, but who is in fact the nobleman Albrecht, engaged to another and merely toying with her affections, with tragic consequences.
The most enduring of all the romantic ballets, this spectacular production featured bright costumes and excellent musical accompaniment to Adolphe Adam’s entrancing score by the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, although I could have done with a more naturalistic set.
Yet what undoubtedly set this production alight was the star presence of prima ballerina Nina Ananiashvili in the title role. She manages to convey love and longing, joy and despair, not simply by dance but by facial expressions and body movements. Emotion seeps out of every pore and she dances with a lightness of touch and effortlessness - at times resembling a leaf floating through the air - that is simply dazzling to watch.
Ms Ananiashvili was strongly supported by an exquisite corps de ballet who, in particular, brought out the ethereal, somewhat spooky nature of spirits suddenly released from their shadowy noctural world. This indeed was an evening to savour.
Ms Ananiashvili gave a further masterclass in ballet perfection, her fleet, intricate footwork well in evidence, when she danced in Bizet Variations as part of the company’s second programme. This ravishing Mixed Bill comprised Duo Concertant, set to music by Stravinsky and focusing on the unfolding relationship between two dancers, Chaconne, in which Balanchine, who was born in Georgia, uses his choreography for productions of Orpheus and Eurydice to create an enchanting neo-classical ballet set to Gluck’s inspirational music, and the marvellous Sagalobeli, an uplifting marriage of folk dance and classical ballet.
The great versatility and determination of this company was made even more remarkable by the fact that they were performing while their country was being invaded by Russia.
By Laurence Green
www.eif.co.uk - Edinburgh International Festival website
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