On the company's programs at BAM will be a piece by San Francisco Ballet choreographer-in-residence Yuri Possokhov (set to traditional Georgian choral music, performed live), George Balanchine's Chaconne, and two works by Bolshoi Ballet artistic director Alexei Ratmansky: Dreams About Japan (featuring percussionists from the Bolshoi Theatre Orchestra) and a yet-untitled world premiere. (Ananiashvili will perform in two ballets on each date.) In addition, at several other stops on the tour (which include Berkeley, Santa Barbara, Los Angeles, Chicago, Iowa City and Minneapolis), Ananiashvili will dance the title role in Giselle, one of her signature parts.
The recent history of the State Ballet of Georgia is a remarkable tale of rebirth. The company had fallen dormant in the wake of the civil war, economic turmoil and social unrest that plagued Georgia following its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. In 2004, the republic's new president, Mikhail Saakashvili, invited Ananiashvili — a star of American Ballet Theatre and one of Georgia's most internationally prominent artists in any discipline — to come home to Tbilisi and revive the troupe.
In the three years since then, Ananiashvili has developed a company that has earned enthusiastic plaudits from critics and audiences at home and abroad, performing such classic ballets as Ashton's La Fille mal gard_e and Bournonville's Swan Lake and Don Quixote as well as contemporary dances by the likes of Stanton Welch and Alexei Ratmansky. (The State Ballet's repertoire also includes ten works by Balanchine, n_ Georgi Balanchivadze.)
The State Ballet of Georgia made its U.S. debut last month with acclaimed performances at the Spoleto Festival USA in South Carolina, the New Haven Festival of Arts & Ideas in Connecticut and Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival in Massachusetts. Upon seeing the company at Jacob's Pillow, Alastair Macaulay wrote in The New York Times, "Ms. Ananiashvili's Georgians prove to be accomplished and stylish ... the sheer polish of the men is striking ... Put these dancers on a big stage with live music and they can do Georgia proud."
The schedule for the State Ballet of Georgia's winter 2008 U.S. tour is as follows:
- February 14-17 - Berkeley, CA - Cal Performances
- February 19 - Santa Barbara, CA - UC Santa Barbara
- February 21-24 - Los Angeles, CA - UCLA
- February 27-March 2 - Brooklyn, NY - Brooklyn Academy of Music
- March 5-9 - Chicago, IL - Auditorium Theatre
- March 11 - Iowa City, IA - University of Iowa
- March 14-15 - Minneapolis, MN - University of Minnesota