Georgian Dancing – Roots, Legends, and Children in Moscow
25 November, 2010

One would imagine that there has been a ‘Georgian Month of Friendship’ officially announced in Russia.

Sadly enough, it never has and is not likely to happen soon but have a look at the list of Georgian dance shows taking place in a month’s time:
‘Georgian Legend’ on November 12, in Moscow,
‘Pesvebi’ on November 13, in Moscow,
‘Georgian Legend’ on November 16, in Saint Petersburg,
‘Iveria’ scheduled on Christmas Eve in Moscow.
November in Moscow is always cold, rainy and nasty. The local public seeks escape and amusement in theatres, music halls, cinemas, at numerous exhibitions, performances and concerts. It’s in early November when the New Year season starts for show producers, and venues are packed to capacity.
In a city with over 15 million population, the existing concert halls cannot cope with the demand even at inflated ticket prices. The public is readily attending not only the downtown shows, but it also travels to a recently launched Crocus City Hall located outside Moscow proper.
For the guest stars, Moscow has long become a must-include place on their tour schedule. Georgian folk dance companies are not leaving out Russian capital from their plans, either. Well-managed and heavily marketed, they override all visa barriers and hit the Moscow stage with absolutely successful colorful shows.
The folk dance boom in Russia began more than a decade ago, when Irish Riverdance and Lord of the Dance had sparked the interest in contemporary dance with a touch of national features.
In 1999, the Georgian Legend followed the suit. The show was first launched by Jim Low and Pascal Jourdan, a Franco-American producer duo inspired by the beauty of Georgian folklore. Under their management, the 100-man company presented a miracle performance of the highest international show business standards. Touring all over the world, they communicated their love for Georgia to millions of spectators.
Here in Russia, in a culture famous for classical music and ballet, the folk performances have found their niche surprisingly fast and have become the long-awaited events for Moscow aficionados. When I first went to Georgian Legend in Kremlin, I hardly heard the native Georgian tongue in the audience. It’s not the expats like me, but the ordinary Muscovites, that are filling the concert halls to watch the famous Georgians dance.
This time the Georgian Legend presented a new SAMAIA show with extended program, exceeding all previous performances in scope and drama. Both appearances, in Moscow and Saint Petersburg, were great success and were highly praised in the press. The show will continue the tour in Belarus, UAE, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, Iran and further on.
The Georgian Legend already enjoys the superstar status, and the second-tier dance shows are trying to follow their example. The Pesvebi Company (meaning ‘Roots’ in Georgian) is a newbie in Moscow, but they are using the similar photos and slogans on billboards. I would presume that the scenography and plot are also alike. Shall we see even more Georgian folk companies in Russia in 2011? Quite possibly yes, and not necessarily they will arrive from Georgia.
There are at least 2 Georgian dance schools for children in Moscow. The Iveria School will hold the Christmas show for the parents in December. Judging by what I saw at rehearsals last week, one should expect a professional quality performance. And again, half of the pupils at school have no connection with Georgia, other than affection for folk dance.
When it comes to culture and art, the ties between Russia and Georgia are evident and strong. This gives me hope that the nations will have at least some time to restore relations before all the ties get loose.