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Last Updated: Thursday, 25 December, 2003, 02:57 GMT
Bolshoi star's latest adventure

By Steve Schifferes
BBC News Online

Nina Ananiashvili in Green
Ms Ananiashvili hails from the Georgian capital of Tbilisi
A famous ballerina from the Bolshoi Ballet in Moscow will be appearing at London's Sadler's Wells theatre in March.

Nina Ananiashvili, 41, is most well-known for her classical roles in works such as Swan Lake and Giselle.

She has also appeared for many years in starring roles with the American Ballet Theatre in New York City.

Ms Ananiashvili told BBC News Online she was excited by the prospect of working with new choreographers on modern pieces for her fledgling company, Moscow Dance Theatre.

Famous

She began her stage career as an ice-skater in her native town of Tblisi in Georgia, becoming a figure-skating champion at the age of 10.

A local dance teacher spotted her and showed her a version of Swan Lake on skates. By the age of 14 she had been whisked to the Bolshoi ballet school in Moscow to begin the rigorous training needed to become a prima ballerina.

She was just 18 when she won a Gold Medal in an international dance concert and was accepted into the Bolshoi company.

Nina Ananiashvili with Dmitri Belogolovtsev in Green
Classical and expressive - the intensity of dance

But after more than two decades in the spotlight, Ms Ananiashvili still loves to dance, her voice swelling with enthusiasm as she explains.

"Sometimes I feel like staying in bed in the morning. But when I get to the theatre for rehearsal and begin to dance, I see that I can still jump higher than anyone else and I want to carry on," she told BBC News Online.

New enthusiasms

Ms Ananiashvili says she now dances differently - she is more in control and can support the other dancers.

And her enthusiasm extends to embracing new contemporary dance which she is keen to pioneer with her own company.

"The Bolshoi is the Bolshoi," says Ms Ananiashvili, who feels that while the company is unbeatable in the classic roles, it is very much set in its ways.

The Moscow Dance Theatre has had to rehearse where it can without a permanent home.

She is bringing several new dances to London, including Dreams of Japan, based on the traditions of the Kabuki Theatre, which she studied when she was touring in Japan.

Nina Ananiashvili in Second Before the Ground
Still jumping higher than all the rest

Her own favourite is Charms of Mannerism, which takes four dancers who change from dolls to humans through a series of pas de deux and trios to the music of 17th Century composer Francois Couperin.

And she will be performing in a one-act neo-classical ballet called Green created by Stanton Welch, artistic director of the Houston Ballet.

Ms Ananiashvili has also worked closely with British-born Ben Stevenson, who is currently artistic director at the Texas Ballet Theatre.

He was the first choreographer to have created a dance specifically for her, The Snow Maiden.

She says her dream is for Mr Stevenson to choreograph a dance for her at the Bolshoi, and there had been plans, since put on hold, to do Les Dames aux Camillas.

Ms Ananiashvili has not lost her enthusiasm for classic roles, and says one of her favourites is the Kenneth McMillan ballet Manon, first done by the Royal Ballet.

She says it allows a dancer to experience the complete range of emotions as the role progresses.

But with a world tour encompassing Japan, Chile, Denmark, Britain and the USA this spring, it will be her modern moves that should delight audiences across four continents.

Nina Ananiashvili and her company the Moscow Dance Theatre are performing at London's Sadler's Wells theatre from 2-6 March 2004.


SEE ALSO:
'Heavy ballerina' wants big roles
02 Dec 03  |  Entertainment
Bolshoi gets cash boost
05 Jun 02  |  Entertainment
Ballet veteran displays modern touch
31 Dec 01  |  Entertainment


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