09 / 08 / 2023

Yacobson’s Choreography Meets Shostakovich’s Music

    Leonid Yacobson Ballet Theatre plans to take part in an international art festival titled Shostakovich. Beyond Time, which the city of Samara will be hosting in late September.
    Dmitry Shostakovich and Leonid Yacobson were not only contemporaries, but both hailed from the city of Leningrad. In fact, they often co-authored ballets.
    ‘I began my creative foray into music theatre alongside Leonid Yacobson in 1930,’ Dmitry Shostakovich wrote in his behind-the-scenes recollections of the Golden Age production at the Mariinsky Theatre. ‘What an unforgettable evening! It seemed to me that Yacobson and I were born anew in art, and his choreographic interpretation made my music sound like never before. Ever since then, I would be consistently interested in Yacobson’s journey as an artist. I kept track of all the heated discussions that his work sparked in theatre circles.’
    The composer took great joy in entrusting the choreographer with his music. Thus, the repertoire of Yacobson’s Choreographic Miniatures troupe gained three one-act ballets set to music by Shostakovich: The Mad Dictator, The Bedbug, and The Wedding Cortège.
    The Wedding Cortège premièred shortly before Leonid Yacobson’s death in 1975. The choreographer himself counted this mini-ballet among his greatest masterpieces. The score is based on the last segment of Trio in E Minor for the Piano, Violin and Cello, which Shostakovich dedicated to the memory of his close friend Ivan Sollertinsky. And the set is the creation of Valery Levental, who translated Marc Chagall’s art into the language of stage design. The resulting show tells a heart-wrenching tale of a penniless young man, whose beloved is to be wed to a much wealthier groom.
    ‘He was especially fond of this ballet, staged it all in one breath. He could feel it was turning out amazing. The show was full of so many discoveries! Consider the Poor Groom’s duo with the Bride: so inspired, fantastical, truly in the spirit of Chagall! And that incredible closing monologue, performed by the Poor Groom! Yacobson came up with it in a single sitting, literally twisting my body into a knot,’ recollects Choreographic Miniatures soloist Aleksandr Styopin.
    Today, The Wedding Cortège is one of the most striking productions on the Leonid Yacobson Theatre’s playbill. It will be part of the programme that our troupe will perform during the festival on 28 September, at the Samara Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre named after Dmitry Shostakovich.
    The Samara public will also enjoy other shows by Leonid Yacobson: The Swan, Cachucha, and Medieval Dance with Kisses miniatures and the Brilliant Divertissement one-act ballet, all restored this year; as well as the legendary Pas de Deux with Mozart’s score, Taglioni’s Flight, Pas de Quatre, and Pas de Trois. The Leonid Academic Ballet Theatre is currently the only company to play these choreographic masterpieces.