This story originally appeared in the April/May 2016 issue of Pointe.
You've been at the Joffrey Ballet for your whole career. What do you love about the company?
When I joined, at 16, I was drawn to their repertoire. We were doing John Cranko's Romeo and Juliet, and not many companies in the U.S. do that version. I was fortunate to dance Juliet my first year. And I love working with choreographers who have created on me or had special visions for me—I love the things they pull from my body and the way they push me.
What do you enjoy more: performing or being in the studio?
I cherish every moment in the studio, because it's vital. I believe in hard work and repetition, although not to the point of killing myself. But the more prepared I am, the more understanding I have of the role, the better I feel onstage.
You recently danced the goddess Diana in John Neumeier's Sylvia. What was that experience like?
It was magnificent just to be in the same room with him. Neumeier kept saying, “This is Chicago's version." He modified certain things; it almost felt like he was creating or recreating movement. He gave us an opportunity to show how we as people, how we as dancers, express ourselves.
Jaiani and Temur Suluashvili in Yuri Possokhov's "Adagio." Photo by Cheryl Mann, Courtesy Jofrrey Ballet.
Your husband, Temur Suluashvili, also dances with the Joffrey and is a partner of yours. What's different about dancing with your husband?
It's very special because we have that love affair in real life. We tend to understand each other really easily. Perhaps we have higher expectations. When we get an opportunity to dance together, it's really fun, and it works for our schedules with our baby, which is convenient!
You have an extraordinary extension and an incredible jump. Are these both natural abilities?
I've always had flexible hips and a flexible back. My jump was something that I developed—I worked hard for it. Now, I'm very proud that I'm one of the jumpers in the company.
Do you have advice for the next generation of dancers?
It's so important for a dancer, especially now, to be able to adapt. Like a chameleon, in a way. Really listen to what the choreographers want from you.