Don Quixote through the Eyes of Johan Kobborg. Danish choreographer presents one of the world's 'happiest ballets'

The legendary Knight of the Sorrowful Countenance returns to St. Petersburg. The renowned Danish choreographer Johan Kobborg has given the life story of Cervantes' character a retelling of his very own. And presented the adventures of the Ingenious Hidalgo to the public together with the dancers from the Leonid Yacobson Ballet Theatre. Elena Voroshilova reports her impressions of the new ballet.

Winter. For the Yacobson Ballet, 'tis the season of premières. The ballet company does not have a stage of its own. So the dancers perform as the Alexandrinsky Theatre. For the past six years, the Yacobson Company has been managed by Andrian Fadeev, former Mariinsky principal. He believes that Don Quixote will bring St. Petersburg a little bit of the sunlight that it sorely needs.

'At this time of the year, what you really want is a warm, happy summertime Spanish festival. Plus, next year will be Marius Petipa's 200th birth anniversary. So we are staging this premiere to celebrate the occasion,' says Andrian Fadeev, art director and manager of the Leonid Yacobson Ballet Theatre.

This is the ballet company's first time working with Johan Kobborg. Covent Garden's ex-soloist went down in the history of the Royal Ballet as its most audacious Basilio, and even came up with his own version of the ballet.

'This is one of the happiest ballets in the world. Every theatre should have it in its repertoire. Every emotion is turned up to the max here: ambition, excitement, drive. And that is always a challenge,' says Johan Kobborg, the show's choreographer and production director.

Despite the Yacobson Company's small size, the youth and talent of its dancers have filled Kobborg with great enthusiasm. He has even written whole new scenes for comical side characters, such as Sancho Panza. The cast of characters has been expanded, too: we now get to meet Cervantes, the author of Don Quixote de la Mancha himself. The show's set designer, Jérôme Kaplan, is crossing paths with Don Quixote for the third time. His St. Petersburg version of the ballet has been inspired by Gustave Doré's engravings. The artist has added a splash of colour to bring life to the monochrome designs.

'Gustave Doré made a series of engravings during a trip to Spain. He also got to illustrate Servantes' novel, capturing its unique spirit. When I saw Doré's work I realized that this is truly a little bit of Spain,' says Kaplan.

December is the season of countless Nutcrackers, but the dancers from the Leonid Yacobson Ballet have decided to perform Don Quixote, and they do not believe it's anything out of the ordinary. Who cares if there's snow or bright sunshine outside. The key is in the festive mood.


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