Feb. 22, 2008
Nina Ananiashvili and State Ballet of Georgia perform 'Giselle' March 11
One of the most popular Romantic ballets in history will come to the stage of the University of Iowa Hancher Auditorium when the State Ballet of Georgia and its superstar artistic director and prima ballerina Nina Ananiashvili (photo, left) celebrate the approach of spring with a performance of "Giselle" at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 11.
A dinner in the Hancher Café will precede the performance. The café opens at 5:30 with dinner served at 6 p.m. Reservations are required.
Following the breakup of the Soviet Union, the new Republic of Georgia took up the challenge of building a world-class ballet company from the ground up after an era of political repression and economic deprivation.
The challenge was taken up by Bolshoi and American Ballet Theatre star Ananiashvili and former Bolshoi artistic director Alexei Fadeyechev, as well as principal dancers from the Bolshoi, resulting in a lovingly developed, top-tier company that carries on the rich traditions of Russian ballet.
When Ananiashvili danced the role with the company in New York, critic Alastair Macauley wrote, "The eyes are still doelike, the lines of the legs and arms have the same lovely, calm flow, the responsiveness to the other characters onstage is still touching and vulnerable, and her timing and phrasing remain wonderfully direct.
"The Georgians dance with the same musical directness and springlike charm as Ms. Ananiashvili. The style is clean, the female corps de ballet uniformly engaged.
"The production's pleasure is simply that this is 'Giselle' itself, neither spoiled by pretentious reinterpretation nor made stale by mannerism, and with just the right romantic overlay to the ballet's classicism."
Ananiashvili grew up in the Georgian capital, Tblisi, first gaining recognition as a junior skating champion, but she soon abandoned the ice to concentrate on ballet training. Even before she graduated from the Bolshoi school in Moscow she won a Gold Medal at the Narna International Competition and the Grand Prize at the Moscow International Ballet competition.
Her professional career began at the Bolshoi in 1981, with "Giselle" being one of the first roles with which she impressed western audiences when the company began touring to Great Britain and the United States. In 1988 she became the first Soviet ballerina to dance as a guest of the New York City Ballet.
She later became a principal at American Ballet Theatre and the Houston Ballet. She has been a guest star with top companies throughout the world, and she founded her own touring ensemble. She was named a Ballet Magazine "Queen of Dance" in 2003.
She became artistic director -- and resident superstar -- of State Ballet of Georgia in 2004 at the invitation of President Mikhail Saakashvili.
The roots of "Giselle" and its score by Adophe Adam began in the 1840s, but the ballet productions known to modern audiences derive from the ballets directed by Marius Petipa for the Imperial Ballet during the last two decades of the 19th century.
The ballet's first act tells the story of an innocent village maiden who falls in love with a man, unaware that he is a nobleman already betrothed to another. Heartbroken, she dies.
But that is far from the end of the story. In act two she rises from the grave to save the life of her beloved from the vampire ghosts of girls who were betrayed by their lovers and died before they could ever be wed. Before returning to her grave at dawn, she forgives him and the two pledge their eternal love.
Two of the most striking aspects of the State Ballet of Georgia production of "Giselle" are reconstructions of scenery and costumes designed by Alexandre Benois, a premier Russian designer in the early 20th century.
The "Giselle" performance is supported by Kenneth and Jessica Malloy, William and Marlene Stanford, and John and Sue Strauss through the University of Iowa Foundation.
Tickets are Auditorium. $50/45/40; UI student $45/15; senior citizen $45/40.50/36; youth $35/31.50/28. Dinner tickets are $28.
The Hancher Auditorium business hours are 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. weekdays and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays. From the local calling area, dial 319-335-1160. Long distance is toll-free, 1-800-HANCHER. People with special needs for access, seating and auxiliary services should dial 319-335-1158, which is equipped with TDD for people with hearing impairment who use that technology.
Tickets may be ordered at http://www.hancher.uiowa.edu.
Orders may be charged to VISA, MasterCard or American Express. UI students may charge their purchases to their university bills, and UI faculty and staff may select the option of payroll deduction. Information and brochures may be requested by e-mail at http://www.hancher.uiowa.edu.
STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Arts Center Relations, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 351, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500
MEDIA CONTACT: Winston Barclay, 319-384-0073 (office), 319-430-1013 (cell), email@example.com