What would it be like to be husband and wife… and play Giselle and Albrecht? Married Joffrey Ballet dancers Victoria Jaiani and Temur Suluashvili had the opportunity to just that this season, and the result was… well, I’ll let the New York Times sum it up:
Giselle is a dramatic challenge as much as anything, and Victoria Jaiani’s interpretation of the title role was fascinating. Her Giselle was a forthright, occasionally almost funny peasant girl, with refreshing initial doubts about her mysterious new lover, Albrecht. Her first-act disintegration was as wrathful as it was deranged. And it all worked, tempered by a strong, clear, classical attack derived in part, one suspected, from Ms. Jaiani’s love of skating.
Her second-act Giselle rode the music’s surf, her feet nibbling at the stage floor as she was swept along it. Her relationship to Albrecht was nuanced, helped by exquisite second-act partnering. Ms. Jaiani was a wonder.
Her Albrecht, Temur Suluashvili, was air to her earth. Trained, like Ms. Jaiani, at the Chabukiani academy in the Republic of Georgia and at the Joffrey Ballet School in New York, Mr. Suluashvili also created a nuanced and sometimes unexpected portrayal of his character. The second act gave him a chance to soar, in elegant airborne dancing that perfectly complemented Ms. Jaiani’s drive and tenderness. Read the rest of the review.
Victoria and Temur seem to be that rarest of dance couples- a duo whose on stage chemistry sizzles as hot as their off stage romance. They met at the Joffrey, where Jaiani came to study as a 14 year old apprentice from Georgia (the country, not the state) and managed, three years later, to win the Bronze Medal at the New York International Ballet Competition and earn a spot in the company in the same season.
What is it like to be married to a fellow dancer? Here’s a peek into their world, from a recent Dance Magazine profile of Jaiani:
They own a car. Suluashvili, who has a wicked sense of humor, does the driving, and says on performance days he is compelled to drive to the theater only along a particular route for fear that Jaiani, who describes herself as “a creature of habit,” becomes unsettled. They have an adorable dog, Chapa (named after a Georgian cartoon character). And to relax, Jaiani enjoys making her specialty in the kitchen: dolma (stuffed grape leaves). The two will occasionally rehearse tricky lifts in their living room, and from time to time he will partner her onstage, though this is rare. They both agree that it is best to “leave work at the studio.”
For Dance United, the pair will perform a pas de deux from Yuri Possokhov’s Bells, which the Chicago Tribune described as “luxuriantly, passionately Russian… throughout, Possokhov mixes classic form with seething intensity and a love of odd gesture… embrac[ing] an often exhilarating tradition only to tease and tickle it whenever the mood strikes.”
The Joffrey posted an excellent video interview about Bells featuring great rehearsal footage with Victoria, Temur and Possokhov. Check it out below :
Dance United performs for one night only on June 9th at 7:30 pm at the Keller Auditorium and features dancers from around the world including the San Francisco, Miami City, Dutch National and New York City Ballets.