The messenger logo

Friends of the Georgian Ballet

By Mariam Chanishvili
Tuesday, March 17
“Sharing the power of ballet is something we care deeply about”-The Friends of the Georgian Ballet (FGB), a non-profit organization, grants scholarships for young dance students at the Vakhtang Chabukiani School and often funds expenses for ballet dancers traveling to competitions or festivals.

The Messenger had a chance to interview the representatives of the FGB and talk about the organisation and its future plans.

In 2006 founder Mariella Tefft, the spouse of the US Ambassador at the time, decided to establish the organisation in order to support not only the initiatives of the State Ballet of Georgia but also the future generation of ballet dancers, by offering scholarships for their further studies.

The membership fees of the Friends of the Georgian Ballet provide funding for scholarships for promising young ballet students at the V. Chabukiani Choreographic School and participation by specially selected members of the Ballet Company in prestigious ballet competitions and master classes held in various countries all over the world.

Since 2004 Georgian ballerina Nina Ananiashvili has been the art director of the Ballet Company of the Z. Paliashvili Tbilisi Opera and Ballet Theatre and V. Chabukiani Tbilisi Ballet Art State School, the director of the latter being Zviad Bakradze.

The V. Chabukiani Tbilisi State School of Ballet Art is the only one in Georgia preparing and graduating professional ballet artists. Classical dance is the major discipline. All special subjects studied here are in reciprocal relation with each other and set the goal to raise professional ballet artists. Students of the school during the whole year take active part in different performances at the Tbilisi Opera and Ballet State Theatre, among others Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker, Minkus’ Don Quixote, Giuseppe Verdi’s Aida, and Hertel’s La Fille mal gardee.

Project manager at the State Ballet of Georgia, Orsolya Sarossy noted that if the FGB manage to raise further funds, after settling the scholarships for the students, then they get involved in other projects and support some young dancers to participate in competitions and master classes abroad as well.

“Last summer, there was a seminar in Paris and two young dancers, who just graduated from the Vakhtang Chabukiani School and just joined the State Ballet of Georgia, got the opportunity to attend the seminar and develop their knowledge, learn more about certain styles,” she said.

The selection of the students is based on the nomination by the V. Chabukiani Tbilisi Ballet Art State School, with the head of the study program. Also, their social needs, talents, motivation and dedication are taken into consideration.

Lila Yiannakaki, board member of the FGB noted that the main goal of the organisation is to fund, sustain and support the education and development of the future generation.

“Ballet is the most beautiful, graceful and magical form of art, which is the dance of the human soul. This is why the organisation focuses on the development of ballet in Georgia. Nina Ananiashvili has influenced the goals of the organisation a lot by being very dedicated to Georgian Ballet’ said Lila Yiannakaki.

Maka Gogia, another board member of the FGB noted that the organisation constantly strives for attracting more members due to the fact that having more members means having a greater budget and better opportunity to make more students’ dreams come true.

Among many other benefits, members of the FGB enjoy exclusive private events and invitations to performances specially organised for them, they have a privilege to view rehearsals and gain an insight into what goes on behind-the-scenes, meet Nina Ananiashvili and experience a personal relationship with Georgian Ballet dance company. Friends of the Georgian Ballet have a special reserved row at the Opera House for ballet performances. Through the FGB newsletter, they also learn more about the world of ballet, and the lives of the members of the State Ballet of Georgia.