In January 2019, the ballet world will be celebrating the 115th birth anniversary of Leonid Veniaminovich Yacobson, an outstanding 20th-century choreographer, master of experimental ballet, and creative genius.
Many of his contemporaries believe that, because of the heavy burden of always having to struggle against the current and to prove to those in authority that his approach to art had a right to exist, this talented follower of Michel Fokine did not have time to do even one half of what he would have been capable of. Nevertheless, Yacobson followed his own, personally charted course across the realm of fate. He sought out the roads less travelled in the artistic world, guided by an unmatched creative intuition and the boundless imagination of a born artist.
'Leonid Yacobson's creativity as a choreographer is an undying wellspring,' talented ballerina Tatyana Vecheslova wrote back when the great Master was still alive. 'Looking at his work, you can truly see that the expressive power of the human body is absolutely limitless. You feel like anything can be described through dance, any feeling and any thought'. The creative heritage of Leonid Yacobson is diverse as it is priceless, but one of the most remarkable milestones of his career was the Choreographic Miniatures production (1958). Later on, it would give name to his theatre: the first place where Yacobson could, at long last, enjoy the freedom of executing his creative concepts, which would largely define the future extensive repertoire that the choreographer would produce remarkably quickly. Carefully restored over the Theatre's most recent history, these choreographic creations still remain at the core of our playbill.
Stubbornly rebellious, Yacobson was considered too politically unreliable to be allowed to leave the country for most of his life, but now the whole world has turned into a stage for his dancers, just as he had always wanted. We have lost count of the renowned venues that our theatre has visited over the past few years. Today, we continue to work in line with the vision of the ballet master, who once founded a 'troupe of soloists': a team of versatile dancers who were perfectly capable of embodying even the most complex of concepts.
Just as his favourite artist, Francisco Goya (one of the choreographer's most ardent aspirations was to design a production based on his Los Caprichos), the great ballet dreamer travelled his own arduous journey towards knowledge. He was known for his non-conformist approach to art, and it was no accident that he named his only book Letters to Noverre (meaning Jean-Georges Noverre, another daring innovator, who unleashed a dance revolution during the reign of Louis XV). Non-conformists are the ones who change the world, and without Yacobson's creations, today's ballet would have been very different. And we would have been different as well. This statement is being proved true by every ballet of the youngest generation of the 'troupe of soloists', which still venerates the teachings of Yacobson.