A Celebration of Stravinsky
On 17 June, the new venue of the Mariinsky Theatre will host a concert in honour of Igor Stravinsky’s birthday. The first act will feature The Nightingale, a vibrant fairy-tale opera starring the Mariinsky troupe.
In the second act, Leonid Yacobson Ballet dancers will perform the Troika choreographic miniature to Stravinsky’s music, along with the recently revived Brilliant Divertissement, a one-act ballet with a score by Mikhail Glinka.
When it came to choosing the music to accompany his productions, Leonid Yacobson was known for his creative boldness. He found Stravinsky’s unique, intricate style particularly appealing. The choreographer integrated Stravinsky’s scores into multiple works, from the Dead Tsarevna and Troika miniatures, to ballets like The Wandering Circus, Contrasts, and Negro Concert.
Troika, specifically, uses the first part of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring. The production was restored by the Leonid Yacobson Ballet Theatre specifically for this memorable occasion. ‘Choreography, as I conceive it, must realize its own form, one independent of the musical form, though measured to the musical unit,’ says the great composer in Robert Craft’s famous Conversations with Igor Stravinsky. And if we look at Leonid Yacobson’s creative heritage, it becomes apparent that he related closely to this idea. Even in Troika, the audience sees not a sombre portrayal of Ancient Rus’, but a company of revellers melting a path through the winter snow with its impassioned dancing. This good-natured, lubok-like fairy-tale is not the first thing you would associate with Stravinsky’s score.
Like Troika, Brilliant Divertissement clearly illustrates that what Leonid Yacobson saw in music was not a stage script with a detailed map of all the different pas, but a key to visualising the concepts crafted by his boundless imaginations. In this mini ballet, the choreographer invites his viewers to a courtly ball from the times of Louis XIV, where he, once again, breaks the rigid confines of rules and ceremony, albeit not in a brash, provocative way, but subtly, with a mischievous smirk.