Don Quixote

16 Feb 2023 19:00 | At the Mariinsky Theatre

World star Johan Kobborg has collaborated with the Leonid Yacobson Ballet Theatre to stage a classical production of Don Quixote, with music by Ludwig Minkus.

Johan Kobborg, the world-class ballet star who has also earned a reputation for himself as a choreographer at the world's major ballet venues, has completed his work at the Leonid Yacobson Ballet Theatre to stage the premiere of his own take on the Don Quixote ballet, set to music by Ludwig Minkus.

This show is the first ballet production in a series of anniversary events dedicated to the Year of Marius Petipa in Russia. Those who attended the premiere gave well-deserved praise to this dynamic and vibrant performance, drenched in blazing light of the Spanish sun, which shines upon a whirlwind of profound passion. A roller-coaster of a plot and a cast of spitfire characters are brought to life by expressive choreography and a gorgeous set design, courtesy of the world-class genius Jérôme Kaplan. The show also offers a refreshing approach to the classics, which it owes to its producer, Johan Kobborg, an ardent lover of Russian ballet, who is well-known as both a choreographer and a brilliant danseur to audiences of both the Bolshoi and Mariinsky Theatre. After this premiere, the great master's reputation as a paragon of male dance performances will very likely get augmented by worldwide fame as an attentive interpreter of the cultural heritage left by Marius Ivanovich Petipa, known as 'the Russian Frenchman'. This has been Johan Kobborg's first time staging a ballet in St. Petersburg, and first collaboration with the Leonid Yacobson Ballet Theatre.

Johan Kobborg: 'When Andrian Fadeev, art director of the Leonid Yacobson Ballet Theatre, offered me to stage Don Quixote, I did not have a shadow of a doubt that our work together would be interesting and fruitful. There were many factors at play at the same time. I have known Andrian for many years, and I respect him as a brilliant dancer. And now I can put trust in his professionalism in his new capacity as a ballet company manager. As luck would have it, both of us had enough free time to work on this project. For more than 10 years now, I have been just as enthusiastic about working as a choreographer as about performing. I love not only making new shows, but also looking for fresh interpretations of famous ballets. To keep the ballet art alive, you have to practice looking at ballet classics from a new angle, and to be closer to the public. I used to work at a classical ballet troupe, so I respect the academic style and have no wish to undermine it. But the world is changing, and this demands new approaches to traditional productions'.

Johan Kobborg is widely known to ballet lovers as an international celebrity. Alumnus of the Royal Danish Ballet School, he used to dance as a principal at the Danish Royal Ballet and at the London Royal Ballet, Covent Garden. He also appeared as a guest star in productions at the La Scala Theatre in Milan, the Mariinsky and Bolshoi Theatres, and many other renowned theatres worldwide.

More than a decade ago, Johan Kobborg embarked on a new path as a choreographer: in October 2005, the Royal Ballet in London opened a new season with his edition of the La Sylphide by August Bournonville; shortly thereafter, Kobborg went on to produce a number of shows for other ballet theatres. In the 2007/08 season, his version of La Sylphide entered the Bolshoi Theatre's repertoire as well.

This was Johan Kobborg's first time staging a ballet in St. Petersburg, and first collaboration with the Leonid Yacobson Ballet Theatre. The choreographer has already gone though all rehearsals.

The scenery for the premiere has been provided by Jérôme Kaplan, a renowned French set designer with Russian roots; the Russian public may already be familiar with his contribution to the Illusions Perdues ballet at the Bolshoi Theatre (music by Leonid Desyatnikov), which he worked on in tandem with the choreographer Aleksey Ratmansky. The show's production crew also included Vincent Millet, a lighting designer who previously collaborated with Kaplan at the Bolshoi Theatre.

The premiere of the Don Quixote ballet was scheduled to celebrate the 200th birth anniversary of Marius Petipa and took place at the Tovstonogov Bolshoi Drama Theatre on December 14, 2017, and at the Alexandrinsky Theatre on December 19, 2017.

The performance was accompanied by the Saint-Petersburg State Academic Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Maestro Anatoly Rybalko.


Johan Kobborg is the former principal of the Danish Royal Ballet and the London Royal Ballet. He has performed as a guest star at the Mariinsky and Bolshoi Theatres, the La Scala Theatre in Milan, the National Ballet of Canada, the Teatro di San Carlo in Naples, the Ballet Nacional de Cuba, the Hamburg Ballet, the Staatsoper in Munich, the Companhia Nacional de Bailado de Portugal, the National Ballet of China, the South African Ballet Theatre, the Stuttgart Ballet, the Wiener Staatsoper Ballet, the Ballet Basel, the Royal Danish Ballet, the Nannover Ballet, the Dortmund Ballet, the Royal Swedish Ballet, the National Ballet of Finland, the Norwegian National Ballet, the Danish Dance Theatre, the Tokyo Ballet, the Scottish Ballet, the New National Theatre Ballet (Tokyo), the Kobayashi Ballet (Tokyo), Christopher Wheeldon's Morphoses company, and many more. Kobborg has contributed to the Tokyo International Ballet Festival, the 21st Century Stars project (Paris, New York, Toronto), and the Kings of the Dance extravaganza (New York, California, Moscow, St. Petersburg, Perm). He has toured in Brazil, Portugal, Iceland, Malaysia, South Korea, France, the USA, Poland, Latvia, the Czech Republic, and Turkey. Personalized dance roles have been designed especially for him by a number of renowned choreographers: Flemming Flindt, Peter Schaufuss, Kim Brandstrup, Tim Rushton, Christopher Wheeldon, David Bintley, Ashley Page, Michael Corder, Stanton Welch, Stephen Pier, Anna Laerkesen, Thordal Christensen, Will Tucket, Anders Christiansen, Christopher Hampson, Annette Abildgaard, and others.

As a choreographer, he staged his version of the La Sylphide ballet at Covent Garden in 2005. He also produced the same ballet at the Bolshoi Theatre (the 2007/2008 season), the Lithuanian National Opera and Ballet Theatre, the Zurich Ballet, and the National Ballet of Canada. In 2007, he also contributed to the divertimento from the Naples performance at the London Royal Ballet, both as a director of choreography and a set designer. In addition, Kobborg directed a number of galas in Sweden and Denmark (2001, 2005, 2006, 2007), and in September 2003, he presented his original From Denmark programme at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London.

He has won multiple International Ballet Contests.

In 2013, Queen Margrethe II of Denmark personally bestowed Kobborg with the Dannebrogordenen Order of Chivalry, one of Denmark's most significant state awards.


Jérôme Kaplan is a notable French artist and set designer. Has Russian ancestry. He has designed the costumes for a number of operas: The Barber of Seville and Don Quixote (for the Saint-Céré Festival), as well as Noye's Fludde and Journal d'un Usager de l'Espace (Grand Opera, Paris). Since 1991, he has been actively collaborating with Les Ballets de Monte Carlo, Centre Chorégraphique National — Ballet de Lorraine (Ballet National of Nancy and Lorraine), the National Ballet of China, the Korean National Ballet, the Ballet van Vlaanderen, the ballet companies of the Meiningen and Dortmund Theatres, the National Ballet of Finland, the Lithuanian National Opera, the Opéra national du Rhin, Le Ballet d'Europe in Marseilles, the Comédie-Française Theatre and many other notable musical and dramatic venues, alongside with multiple international dance festivals. He has designed costumes and sets for classical, modern, multimedia, and avant-garde shows. In 2010, he contributed the scenery and costumes to the Don Quixote show at the Dutch National Ballet (music by Ludwig Minkus, choreography by Marius Petipa and Alexander Gorsky; edited by Aleksey Ratmansky). In 2011, he designed the set for the Illusions Perdues ballet, with music by Leonid Desyatnikov and choreography by Aleksey Ratmansky, at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow. In 2012, this project earned him the Golden Mask Theatre Award in the Best Artist in Music Theatre category. In 2013, he was the set designer during the production of The Nutracker, with music by Pyotr Tchaikovsky and choreography by Nacho Duato, at the Mikhailovsky Theatre in Saint-Petersburg.

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16 Feb 2023 19:00
At the Mariinsky Theatre
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Ballet in three acts
Music by Ludwig Minkus
Choreography by Marius Petipa and Alexander Gorsky
Libretto and choreographic interpretation by Johan Kobborg
Set design by Jérôme Kaplan
Lighting design by Vincent Millet

Running time 2 hours 30 minutes
Presented with two intervals

The show premiered on DECEMBER 14, 2017

The Theatre would like to express its gratitude to Mr Toshihiko Takahashi and the Avtodorozhnaya Stroitelnaya Korporatsiya company for their support in creating the production.