From Georgia, With Love

So Abby and I went on Friday night to the Brooklyn Academy of Music to see the State Ballet of Georgia (the small country just south of Russia; not the southeastern U.S. state), and it was definitely interesting! Under the relatively recent leadership of Nina Ananiashvili, a principal at ABT who has also performed with the Bolshoi, the Royal Ballet, the Kirov and others, State Ballet of Georgia has been one of the companies to keep an eye on in the ballet world. Not only do they have a world-renowned prima ballerina at the helm, but--an interesting factoid--George Balanchine himself was Georgian! 

The evening found varying degrees of success. The dancers, while talented, didn't quite have the chops to do Balanchine's Chaconne justice; their impossibly-long limbs and neverending extensions couldn't fold through Mr. B's rapid-fire quirky steps rapidly enough, which made the whole thing come off a little bit sloppy. The two middle works on the program, Balanchine's Duo Concertant and Alexei Ratmansky's Bizet Variations, also didn't blow me away, although Duo Concertant was beautifully danced by SBG principals Nino Gogua and Lasha Khozashvili. (Incidentally, I was very curious to see the Ratmansky work as well, as he was almost named to replace Christopher Wheeldon as resident choreographer at New York City Ballet! He ended up turning it down, but is scheduled to create work for the company nonetheless...) 

But the final work on the program, Yuri Possokhov's Sagalobeli, was worth waiting for. Set to Georgian folk music and incorporating elements of the country's folk dance traditions as well, this work was clearly made for these dancers. The women's sinewy torsos and expressive arms were highlighted starkly in silhouette against the back scrim; they moved, at times, almost as if they had no bones! And the men were given the chance to show off their athleticism. One guy in particular seemed to hang in midair each time he jumped--no wonder he was so often given the chance to do that, front and center! The music, played by a folk ensemble, was haunting and exciting, and you could tell that the dancers were really enjoying themselves, and were fully invested in it. 

Overall, not at all a bad way to end the evening. And while I have mixed feelings about the performance as a whole, I still definitely think this is a company to watch. If they come to a city near you, check them out! 

chat later, 
(From left) Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland (all photos by Erin Baiano)

Congratulations to Dance Spirit's 2019 Cover Model Search finalists: Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland! One of them will win a spot on Dance Spirit's Fall 2019 cover. Learn more about the dancers by clicking on their names here:

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