For über-ballerina Nina Ananiashvili, all the world really is a stage. Since her ascension as a teenager dancing the lead in Swan Lake for the Bolshoi Ballet—and receiving 13 curtain calls—she has graced stages from her native Republic of Georgia to the Bolshoi in Moscow to the American Ballet Theatre and made her mark as one of the most respected ballet dancers today. Returning to Charleston after her Spoleto premiere in 2007 as Odette/Odile in Swan Lake, Ananiashvili takes on Giselle, a coveted role for only a prima ballerina.
This performance is the pick for dance purists—those who don’t need the edgy style and content of contemporary work but appreciate the classical art form and experience of a virtuoso whom critics have hailed as one of the greatest Giselles of our time. The role requires both technical expertise and dramatic ability—both of which this global superstar, at age 46, still has in spades.
Giselle, first staged by Jules Perrot and Jean Coralli in 1841 and the crown jewel of ballet’s romantic genre, tells the fantastical tale of unrequited passion whereby a love-struck peasant girl falls for an aristocrat who is betrothed to another with his social rank. Heartbroken upon hearing the news, she goes mad and dies. In the second act (always in a moonlit forest), Giselle comes to life as a “Wili” with the legion of other vampire-like ghosts who share a similar demise and try fervently to lure their Casanovas to a dancing death. No spoiler here: you’ll have to see for yourself how the story ends.
George Balanchine said that “to be romantic about something is to see what you are and to wish for something entirely different. This requires magic.” And magic is what Ananiashvili delivers.
June 11-13, Friday-Sunday, times vary.
Gaillard Auditorium, 77 Calhoun St.