Forever Timeless. Leonid Yacobson's Ballet Masterpieces

01 Dec 2022 19:00 | At the Hermitage Theater


This unique programme celebrates Leonid Yacobson, an outstanding 20th century choreographer, and features a number of his famous shows, painstakingly recreated and revived: The Wedding Cortège one-act ballet and several masterful miniatures from the Rodin and Classicism-Romanticism cycles. The programme's première was originally timed to honour the 50th anniversary of the very first concert that Yacobson staged for his troupe, presenting it with great success in June 1971.

The Leonid Yacobson Ballet Theatre is bringing the inimitable creative heritage of its founder back to the playbill, remembering the great artist that did so much to profoundly change the very nature of the Leningrad (St. Petersburg) ballet scene, and even the overall art of ballet worldwide. After a long hiatus, we have recreated the choreographic miniatures inspired by Rodin’s sculptures, which once shocked the contemporaries with their eroticism. Our young dancers have trained for the performance under tutors who used to play in these ballets with Yacobson at the helm.

Leonid Yacobson (1904–1975), founder and art director the Choreographic Miniatures troupe, which now bears his name, was known as Soviet ballet’s chief troublemaker. His party chaperones were likely intimidated by his unpredictable imagination. Here he gets into his head to bring Rodin’s sculptures to life while dressing the performers into figure-hugging, nude-shaded onesies — and living, breathing bodies entwining in such scandalous ways are nothing like embracing stones! Here is his Wedding Cortège — with very interesting timing, right at the peak of the worldwide campaign for allowing Jews to freely leave the Soviet Union; and with such sympathetic depictions of miasteczko inhabitants, too, straight out of Chagall’s art! And then there’s The Bedbug, where Yacobson derides the petty bourgeoisie mindset, precisely when everyone and their mother was chasing after fancy Czech furniture. So it is hardly surprising that the Choreographic Miniatures’ repertoire was subjected to special scrutiny: having finally gained a troupe of his own at the age of 65, the choreographer was overflowing with new ideas, and putting on show after show with tireless youthful enthusiasm.

Tatyana Kuznetsova, Kommersant

Had Leonid Yacobson (1904–1975) lived anywhere else rather than the USSR in an era when all art had to be marinated in ideology, his 100th birth anniversary would have been celebrated far beyond a small circle of professionals and people in the know. But he happened to create his ballets at such a time that compels encyclopaedias to add “Soviet” on top of “choreographer” when describing his profession. Having lived out his life in obscurity behind the iron curtain, he still remains virtually unknown around the world, even though his contribution to the history of ballet is no less significant than that of Petipa or Balanchine.

Maya Krylova, Nezavisimaya Gazeta

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01 Dec 2022 19:00
At the Hermitage Theater


Choreography by Leonid Yacobson

Set design by Valery Levental, People’s Artist of Russia Vyacheslav Okunev

Costumes by People’s Artist of Russia Vyacheslav Okunev, Tatyana Noginova, Anna Yakushchenko

Lighting by Evgeny Ganzburg and Kamil Kutyev

Running time: 2 hours

Presented with one interval. 

Act I

Pas de quatre (Music by Vincenzo Bellini)
Pas de deux (Music by Gioacchino Rossini)
Sextet (music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart)
Pas de trois (Music by Gioacchino Rossini)
Taglioni's Flight (music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart)

 Act II

The Wedding Cortège (music by Dmitri Shostakovich).


Eternal Spring (music by Claude Debussy)
The Kiss (music by Claude Debussy)
Eternal Idol (Music by Claude Debussy)
Despair (Music by Sergey Prokofiev)      
Ecstasy (Music by Sergey Prokofiev)
Paolo and Francesca (Music by Alan Berg)
Minotaur and Nymph (Music by Alan Berg)