A Big Round of Applause for “Nathalie”


On October 16, the State Ballet of Georgia presented the world premiere of the much-awaited new version of the Danish ballet “Nathalie” or “From Siberia to Moscow.” Thanks to the lasting creative relationship between Nina Ananiashvili, Artistic Director of the State Ballet of Georgia, and the Danish choreographers Frank Andersen and Dinna Bjorn, the ballet came back to Tbilisi after 10 years and was, this year again, warmly welcomed by the audience.

The ballet tells the true story of the meeting between the Danish choreographer August Bournonville and the great choreographer Marius Petipa at the Bolshoi Theater, who told him of the journey of a young officer in exile in South Siberia, who managed to escape with an old nobleman and his daughter, Nathalie, interpreted by Nutsa Chekurashvili.

“Nathalie” is the last ballet of Bournonville, written in 1876. It was carefully reconstructed thanks to the original notations Dinna Bjoern inherited from her father.

“With the profound knowledge of his special style, that you only get from having danced in all his still existing ballets, combined with a feeling for the spirit in his works, it is certainly possible to use these notations as an inspirational basis for reconstruction.” she shared.

“One of the forces of the Bournonville tradition is that it is a living tradition, that has gone through natural changes with the changing generations of dancers dancing it, and this has prevented it from becoming dead museum pieces.”

The costumes were tastefully designed, giving an extra touch of authenticity and realism to the ballet. The decoration, made here in Georgia, was also impressively rich and detailed, alternatively turning the stage into a large Siberian public house and a luxurious palace.

The choreography nicely interlaced ballet with national dances from different regions, both impeccably executed by the dancers. Georgia was presented by very young dancers who perfectly demonstrated how technical and joyful the Georgian traditional dance is.

This reference to Georgian culture was surely one of the highlights of the night, warmly welcomed by a diverse and international audience; many diplomats, Friends of the Georgian Ballet and other ballet-lovers came for this world premiere. “The State Ballet of Georgia is playing in the premium league,” one UK citizen, who has traveled extensively and attended ballets all over the world for many years, told us. “The company is really strong for such a small country.”

The company attracts more foreign dancers each year indeed, mostly from Japan. The leading male role was held by Yonen Takano, who studied and worked in Saint Petersburg for years before coming to Tbilisi five years ago. “Most of the foreign dancers are on stage tonight,” he said. Nina later called him to join her during her speech at the reception held in the Blue Hall of the Tbilisi Opera House.

The five-star wine company Château Mukhrani has been a long-standing partner of the State Ballet of Georgia and the Friends of the Georgian Ballet’s events. The company, represented by Teona Talakhadze, Brand Manager of Château Mukhrani and herself a ballet-enthusiast, supported the reception again with the finest Georgian wines. The dancers joined later to celebrate the premiere with their public.

The choreographer Frank Andersen proudly wore a traditional black Georgian chokha, gifted him by the company 10 years ago when the ballet was first staged in Tbilisi.

“I have had the pleasure of following the company since Nina [Ananiashvili] took the helm, and many things have happened, miracles even, for the company. They are a wonderful selection of great and promising dancers, eager to learn and listen and to be challenged, and eager to venture into new lands of choreography.”

The company will be touring after the last performance on October 18, and will come back to Tbilisi in January 2020.

By Lorraine Vaney

Image source: Tiko Vakhania

17 October 2019 18:29