Georgia's internationally renowned dancer and Artistic Director of the State Ballet of Georgia Nina Ananiashvili will head the Novosibirsk Opera and Ballet Theatre's ballet company in Russia, the famed dancer told Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.
In the interview with the Georgian service of RFE/RL Ananiashvili said she would work in parallel with the troupes in both countries and added the appointment in Novosibirsk would also open up opportunities for collaboration between the companies.
Anticipating criticism in Georgia for her decision - with the backdrop of Russia's ongoing occupation of two of Georgia's regions since the 2008 war between the two states - the award-winning dancer stressed her engagement with the Russian company would be an "absolutely creative work".
Ananiashvili, who received her initial dance training in Soviet Russia before breaking into the international stage and enjoying a stellar career that included performances at the American Ballet Theatre and Houston Ballet, cited complications created by the COVID-19 pandemic for the State Ballet of Georgia as the main motivating factor for her move.
The Georgian stage artist told RFE/RL theatre closures and uncertain near-future plans for the scene in Georgia, in contrast to ongoing shows at the Novosibirsk Opera and Ballet Theatre, had determined her choice.
She also added the new work would help her form long-sought collaborations for the Georgian troupe, in particular with the internationally recognised contemporary choreographer Nacho Duato, who has been working as guest choreographer with the Russian company.
Ananiashvili was also asked if the decision to start work in Novosibirsk had been related to her husband Grigol Vashadze’s recent decision to leave the chairmanship of the United National Movement opposition party in Georgia, but said the move was not connected with her new position.
The State Ballet of Georgia director said she expected negative reactions to her decision in Georgia but added she had always been, and would remain, a "big supporter" of her country. She also told the interview she thought it was unlikely the move could be used by the Russian government for "propaganda goals" against Georgia.