Daggers and spears and songs, oh my

By Vince Dixon

They are men who soar through the air at one another with daggers and spears and women who dance to rhythms of the folkloric music of the mountains and plains of Georgia. No — not Georgia the U.S. state, but the small Eurasian country near Russia and the Black Sea. And now they welcome Champaign-Urbana residents to sit and watch the fun.
They are the Georgian State Dance Company and will perform at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts on Wednesday, Oct. 24.
Over the course of their two hour performance, the Georgian State Dance Company (GSDC) uses a blend of contemporary, ballet, acrobatics, and folk dances to wow audience members while also providing a mixture of traditional music, songs and onstage battle scenes.
“It’s something people have to see once in their lives,” said Nino Sukhivili, general director of the company.
Sukhivili and her siblings are the third generation to run the GSDC after their grandparents founded the group in 1945. Since then, the company has traveled to over 88 countries and has performed over 10,000 shows. This year, the show has been on a three month American tour visiting such destinations as California, Chicago, and now Urbana.
It is a show, Sukhivili says, audience members will find quite exciting as the company performs like few others seen in America. Male dancers jump, dance and spin, literally, on their tippy toes and knees while female dancers pull off graceful leaps and twirls in the air.
Sound painful? Not to worry however, the professional 70 member company spends five to six hours a day training, rehearsing and perfecting dances and songs for the show. Also there to rehearse, the 10 member orchestra that — complete with genuine Georgian basses, percussions and duduki flutes — travels with the company.
Complicated dance moves and folkloric music are not the only features that GSDC says they will offer through the show. Authentic costumes, props, and weaponry are also special aspects that the group says add to the overall value of the presentation.
“We use about 500 different costumes during the show,” said Sukhivili, “So there is a quick change.”
Such costumes are handmade using all natural fibers including silk and wool. Dancers also sport Georgian jewelry and handmade arms and shields used for the competitive dance scenes.
The performance, Sukhivili says, will be an unforgettable one.
“It’s a different country and the people who know nothing about Georgia, after they see the show, can imagine it,” she said. “The people who visit the show will never forget it.”
The feature will run one day only is $16 for University students and $30 for standard adults. For more information, call 333-6700 or visit kcpa.uiuc.edu.