State Ballet of Georgia: Giselle, Playhouse, Edinburgh
State Ballet of Georgia: Mixed Bill, Playhouse, Edinburgh
Georgia weeps, but a heroine must still meet her hero
Sunday 17 August 2008
Nothing in the State Ballet of Georgia is as rare as its artistic director. And if that sounds like an indictment of Nina Ananiashvili's stewardship of her native company during four years in charge, it also recognises that talent like hers flowers only once a generation – although fortunately it seems to be spanning several.
My first reaction to her appearance in Giselle at the Edinburgh Festival was disbelief: the young girl bounding from a peasant cottage and pulling up in shock at the sight of a good-looking boy couldn't possibly be a 45-year-old ex-Bolshoi ballerina giving her 200th-plus performance of the role. But she is still the freshest and most nubile of heroines, with spring-lamb hops and skips that suddenly evolve into long, luxurious extensions, as if her body is yawning in the act of waking up.
The same combination of lightness and velvety depth in her movements makes her a fluent wraith, compelling even when she has to coax one more dance out of a jock-like Albrecht – in Vasil Akhmeteli – who occasionally looks like he's just waiting for the final whistle so he can go off and flick towels in the locker room.
It's understandable if a Georgian's thoughts are not completely on the stage right now, but the lack of attention was disastrously obvious in the company's mixed-bill opener, Balanchine's Chaconne. The dancers, led by Akhmeteli and Anna Muradeli, looked as if they had never met before, a rudimentary interpretation of the steps failing to prevent a succession of glaring slips and fumbles. Lasha Khozashvili and Nino Gogua came closer to the clinically lyrical Balanchine style in Duo Concertant, but overall the company looked happier in two ballets – created especially for them this February – where attitude counts for more than accuracy.
Alexei Ratmansky's Bizet Variations is a partner-swapping ballroom piece for three couples, but only two objects of desire. There is little sense of the inherent danger in that dynamic, but, with Ananiashvili making her only appearance in the programme, everyone sweeps and swoons picturesquely. Yuri Possokhov's Sagalobeli mixes classicism with Georgian folk dance and music to evoke an authentic sense of community, where men dancing in circles outflank each other, Zorba-style; and women shimmy or sashay to attract them. You could feel the dancers' happiness at finally being allowed to think of home.
Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air
Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression
tv Singer could become the most unlikely star of Westeros
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Sofyen Belamouadden murder: The inside story of a crime that horrified Britain
- 2 How to turn off/stop 'seen by' on Facebook: Disable it to make your chats seem less passive aggressive
- 3 Company breaks open Apple Watch to discover what it says is 'planned obsolescence'
- 4 'We're not heroes, just tourists': Swedish police officers on holiday stop vicious assault on New York subway
- 5 Buckingham Palace guard who attacked passers-by in 'most most violent piece of CCTV footage' police officer had seen walks free
The sickening truth about food banks that the Tories don't want you to know
Migrant boat disaster: Ukip candidate mocks victims in sickening Twitter post
Nigel Farage wants the BBC to stop making programmes like Doctor Who, Strictly Come Dancing, and Top Gear
Global warming: Scientists say temperatures could rise by 6C by 2100 and call for action ahead of UN meeting in Paris
General Election 2015: Britain would become a 'communist dictatorship' under Ed Miliband and Nicola Sturgeon, claims wife of Michael Gove
Rupert Murdoch berated Sun journalists for not doing enough to attack Ed Miliband and stop him winning the general election