Page last updated at 13:02 GMT, Monday, 11 August 2008 14:02 UK

Dancer's pain over Georgia crisis

Nina Ananiashvili
Ms Ananiashvili performed at the festival despite the conflict

A ballerina performing with the State Ballet of Georgia at the Edinburgh International Festival has condemned Russia's actions in her homeland.

Nina Ananiashvili, the ballet's artistic director, danced in its performance of Giselle on Saturday as fighting in South Ossetia intensified.

She accused Russia of "interfering in the internal affairs of Georgia".

Ms Ananiashvili, 45, has previously been tipped to become her country's culture minister.

The internationally renowned ballerina took over as artistic director of the company at the personal invitation of Georgia's president Mikhail Saakashvili in 2004 and is married to Georgia's deputy foreign minister.

We always have and we continue to respect Russian people and culture
Nina Ananiashvili
State Ballet of Georgia
She performed the lead role of Giselle in the company's performance at the Edinburgh Playhouse.

Urging the world to intervene in the conflict rather than sit and watch, she said: "What Russia is doing currently in our homeland is a great pity and is wrong.

"People who are not involved in making these political decisions are being hurt and have even been killed in this push for occupation by Russian forces.

"It could be regarded as interfering in the internal affairs of Georgia."

Ms Ananiashvili said the conflict was "especially painful" for her as she was prima ballerina of Russian company the Bolshoi Ballet for many years and is committed to promoting Russian culture.

But she said she feared the current conflict would damage relations between the two countries.

She added: "We always have and we continue to respect Russian people and culture.

"We are concerned that their authorities' use of military power may ruin the long- term friendship between Georgian and Russian people."

Giselle
The Giselle cast hope to leave for Georgia on Thursday

The company's 80 members are due to fly home on Thursday, but are unsure if this will be possible.

The current situation in the ballet company's homeland has meant that the Georgian musicians due to join the company in Edinburgh for The Mixed Bill performances on Tuesday and Wednesday have been unable to leave Tbilisi.

The Mixed Bill is a programme which presents Georgia's greatest choreographer George Balanchine alongside Russian Alexei Ratmansky and Ukranian Yuri Possokhov.

Two UK performers Benjamin Nabarro (violin) and Daniel Tong (piano) have stepped in at the last minute and will perform instead of stranded musicians Lela Mtchedlidze (violin) and Tamar Matchavariani (piano).

Recorded traditional Georgian folk music will be used instead of traditional music group Changi.

The fighting erupted when Russia intervened after Georgia launched a large-scale military operation to retake South Ossetia, a breakaway province which has had de facto independence since 1992.


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