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Nina Ananiashvili, great Russian dancer

Great Russian women-dancers

Nina Ananiashvili

Nina Ananiashvili was born in Tbilisi, Georgia on March 28, 1963. Sickly as a child, her parents urged her to take up skating to strengthen her health. By age six, she was a ranked skater, and by the time she was ten, she was Georgia's junior skating champion.

That same year, she started ballet training in Tbilisi. Encouraged by her teachers, she soon abandoned skating for ballet. At the Georgian State Choreographic School, her teacher was Tamara Vikhodtseva; she also came under the tutorship of the renowned virtuoso Vakhtang Chabukiani. Her impressive progress was noted by dance authorities, who persuaded her parents to let her continue her training in Moscow.

Thus, when she was thirteen, she entered the Moscow Choreographic Institute, the teaching school of the Bolshoi Ballet. Her first teacher in that venerable institution was Natalia Viktorovna Zolotova.

Among her first partners in her second year at the school was Andris Liepa. Even before she graduated from the school, Ananiashvili had already won the Gold Medal (Junior Division) at the prestigious Varna International Competition (1980), and the Grand Prix (Junior) at the Moscow International Ballet Competition (1981), with Liepa as her partner.

She joined the Bolshoi Ballet upon graduation in 1981; Raisa Struchkova and Marina Semyonova have been her mentors in the company.

She danced her first major role, Odette-Odile in Swan Lake, while on tour with the Bolshoi in Germany in 1982.

She was soon awarded principal status, and given prima ballerina roles in such classics as Giselle, The Sleeping Beauty, Don Quixote, La Bayadere, Raymonda and Romeo & Juliet.

In 1985, she won the Gold Medal (Senior) in the Moscow International Ballet Competition and in 1986, she and Liepa were both winners of the Grand Prix in the international competition in Jackson, Mississippi.

A hit with audience and critics during the 1986 Bolshoi tour of the UK and 1987 Bolshoi tour of the United States, Ananiashvili and Liepa became the first Soviet dancers to guest with the New York City Ballet in 1988, where they danced Raymonda Variations, Symphony in C and Apollo.

Ananiashvili since has gone on to become a truly international ballet superstar. As well as retaining her status as prima ballerina of the Bolshoi, she is also currently a principal dancer with the American Ballet Theatre. She has appeared with the Royal Danish Ballet, the Kirov Ballet, the U.K.'s Royal Ballet, Covent Garden, Royal Swedish Ballet, Ballet de Monte Carlo, the National Ballets of Norway, Finland and Portugal, Birmingham Ballet, Boston Ballet, Munich Ballet, Houston Ballet and Tokyo Ballet among others. She also tours with her own company, "Nina Ananiashvili and International Stars". Her most frequent partner at the Bolshoi and on tour was Aleksei Fadeyechev.

Ananiashvili, who has been awarded the State Prize of Georgia and the State Prize of Russia "Triumph" for her outstanding achievements, continues to expand her repertory. In June, 1997, she added the title role in Ronald Hynd's choreographic version of The Merry Widow for ABT. She was partnered by Guillaume Graffin.

Inspired by her dancing, Houston Ballet artistic director Ben Stevenson created The Snow Maiden for her in 1998. The evening-length ballet, set to a Tchaikovsky score arranged by John Lanchbery and beautifully staged by Desmond Heeley, was enthusiastically received in Houston and New York, where ABT has performed it in both 1998 and 1999 seasons.

In 1998, Nina also danced Medora in the first night of ABT's first-ever production of Le Corsaire, which became a big hit with the audience; it was the first time Nina danced the complete Corsaire. For ABT's 1999 tour of Japan, Nina added the role of the Glove Seller in Massine's Gaite Parisienne; she was partnered by Giuseppe Picone, in lieu of the injured Guillaume Graffin.

With her home company, the Bolshoi, and her own traveling ensemble, Nina has sought to explore other choreography and dance idioms. She "discovered" Alexei Ratmansky and asked him to choreograph for her troupe. Nina Ananiashvili and Friends since has toured with The Charms of Mannerism and Dreams about Japan ---bringing the pieces to Tokyo, Paris, Alma-Ata, Tbilisi, and the Berkshires' Jacob's Pillow Festival. The Bolshoi, in seeking to integrate the legacy of George Balanchine into its repertory, has recently acquired Symphony in C and Mozartiana, in both of which Nina displays her affinity for the late great choreographer. Plans to add Bugaku to the Bolshoi's repertory have been rescheduled for December 2000.

Now that Alexei Fadeyechev has retired from dancing to become artistic director of the Bolshoi Ballet, Nina is most often partnered by Sergei Filin and Andrei Uvarov. She danced Nikiya (La Bayadere) and Raymonda with Filin and Kitri (Don Quixote) with Uvarov for the Bolshoi's highly successful season at the London Coliseum in July-August 1999.

In early May 2000, the Bolshoi launched its revival of Petipa's La Fille du Pharaon, and Nina had the first night honors.

For the summer of 2000 U.S. tour by the company, she danced with Uvarov and Filin in the Lavrovsky Romeo and Juliet and with Uvarov in Fadeyechev's restaging of Don Quixote. When the Bolshoi came to the New York State Theater in July 2000 as part of the Lincoln Center Festival, Nina danced Giselle with Filin, and both Symphony in C (2nd movement) and the grand pas from Don Q with Uvarov. In between these engagements, Nina appeared with ABT at the Metropolitan Opera House, notably in La Sylphide with Angel Corella and Kevin McKenzie's "new" Swan Lake, partnered by Julio Bocca, who has been her favored partner at ABT.


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