Ballet may have been born and nurtured in the French court of Louis XIV, but it developed a heart and soul in 19th-century Russia. Since the days when nobility ogled dancers from privileged boxes in St. Petersburg's Mariinsky Theater, many companies have sprung up in various parts of Russia. The State Ballet of Georgia, established in 1852, ran into difficulties with the collapse of Communism. In 2004, the Russian born-ballerina Nina Ananiashvili, Prima Ballerina first of Moskow's Bolshoi Ballet and then with American Ballet Theater, went back to her hometown of Tbilisi in Georgia to revitalize the struggling company. On its first American tour since Ananiashvili took over, the troupe will show its range and versatility in two extraordinary programs. Friday night, Ananiashvili will star in a full-length version of "Giselle," arguably the most lucid and lambent example of the romantic ballet genre. Talk about love and death: Here is a fragile heroine who commits suicide, then has the temerity to save her unfaithful lover from being danced to death in the moonlight by the remorseless spirits of women scorned. Saturday night, the company demonstrates its neo-classical chops in two ballets by George Balanchine, the luminous "Chaconne" to music by Gluck and "Duo Concertant" to Stravinsky. "Bizet Variations" gives the Twin Cities a long-awaited glimpse of Russian choreographer Alexksei Ratmansky, considered by many to be the Great Russian Hope for contemporary ballet. The dancers should feel right at home in Yuri Possokhov's "Sagalobeli," danced to Georgian folk music.
Fri., March 14, 8 p.m., 2008