Dance at home: Georgian national ballet moves lessons online

TBILISI (Reuters) - Georgia’s National Ballet, the former Soviet country’s famous folk dance ensemble, started giving lessons online after the group’s popular dance schools closed their doors due to the coronavirus.

Around 5,000 kids and teenagers, who used to attend dance lessons at least three times a week, were left without regular rehearsals for folk dancing, a key part of Georgian culture and great source of national pride.

“We’ve moved to online lessons, which are available to our students as well as for anyone around the world who likes and wants to dance Georgian folk dances,” said Nino Sukhishvili, the group’s art director and granddaughter of its founders.

The husband and wife team of Iliko Sukhishvili and Nino Ramishvili started the ensemble more than 70 years ago and turned it into famous troupe, which has travelled the globe and performed on the world’s greatest stages.

Lively music combined with shows of strength, rapid spins and jumps for male dancers alongside the gliding and elegant movements of female performers in vibrantly coloured costumes make Georgian dance a dazzling spectacle.

The current troupe led by Nino Sukhishvili and her brother Iliko Sukhishvili Jr. was forced to interrupt its tour in eastern Europe in March due to the coronavirus outbreak.

“This is a challenge for us teachers,” said Nutsi Bezhashvili, a soloist with the Sukhishvili ensemble.

“But I believe that everything is better than being at home in isolation without movement ... we will continue to teach lessons to children online and I’m sure that children will take our lessons very well.”

The Caucasus republic of 3.7 million people has reported about 400 cases of COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus, and four deaths.

Reporting by Margarita Antidze, Editing by Ed Osmond