A Fabulous Farewell for a Grand & Generous Diva

June 27, 2009

The crowds at the Met pressed forward, jamming the aisles and holding up cell phones for one last glimpse of their beloved Nina Ananiashvili. It was her final performance with ABT last night, and the audience cheered, roared, and pelted her with flowers.


Swan Lake
with Angel Corella had been magical. Even in the brief prologue, as a human maiden captured by von Rothbart, her arms reached out with intense striving that made us crave to see her again.


When she re-entered in Act II, the line of her arm and tilt of her head gave a sense of poignant self-protection. However this Odette was not a frail creature, but strong and confident—and a bit reckless too. The
re were breathtaking moments like when she seemed to balance forever then slowly fall into Corella’s arms. Toward the end von Rothbart (Marcelo Gomes, as deliciously devilish as usual) lifted her high and tossed her t
o Corella.


At the curtain call the audience went wild. After giving on
to Corella, to Gomes, and to the conductor—Ananiashvili impulsively to
ssed the rest of the bouquet into the orchestra pit. Later the conductor gave her his baton. Boy, did she have fun with that!


A processional of corps dancer each gave her a flower, after which she brought the corps forward for a bow all their own. And as each principal dancer paid their respects, Irina Kolpokova, coach to many principals on the classics, joined them. Nina brought her forward too for all to applaud. She did the same with artistic director Kevin McKenzie. Her deep bows to those individuals and to the company were typical of the generous way she dances and acknowledges other dancers.


After the whole company packed onto the stage, she bourréed across, facing them, her back to us, with rippling swan arms. At the end of the line, Corella lifted her up. He represented all of us, wanting to hold onto her and raise her up in joy.

After 16 years with ABT, she will return to her home city of Tblisi and continue to direct the State Ballet of Georgia. We will miss her.


Photo by  Gene Schiavone, courtesy of ABT