This unique programme of miniatures by the brilliant 20th century choreographer Leonid Yakobson is formed from the great master’s famous and carefully restored productions: the one-act ballet The Wedding Cortège and choreographic masterpieces from the series Rodin and Classicism — Romanticism. This premiere commemorates fifty years since the first concert programme conceived by Yakobson for the company he directed and which was performed to great acclaim in June 1971.
The repertoire of the Leonid Yakobson Ballet Theatre is reviving the unique artistic legacy of a choreographer who to a great extent and in many ways changed the face of Leningrad ballet. Following a lengthy absence, there are to be performances of miniatures inspired by Rodin’s sculptures, which had, at one time, shocked contemporaries with their eroticism, as well as the premiere of the virtuoso Pas de deux to music by Mozart. Coaches who once worked under the great man himself are rehearsing these ballets with the young dancers.
“Leonid Yakobson (1904–1975), the founder and Artistic Director of the “Choreographic Miniatures” company now named after him, was known as a key troublemaker in Soviet ballet. It was, in all probability, the unpredictability of the choreographer’s imagination that frightened his ideological guardians. He would take it into his head to bring Rodin’s sculptures to life, dressing the dancers in figure-hugging leotards – and it’s one thing when stones lie next to each other, and quite another when living bodies are so uninhibitedly intertwined. In The Wedding Cortège – quite inappropriately, in the midst of a world campaign for the free exit of Jews from the USSR – there was a reproduction of Chagall's shtetl inhabitants, and with what sympathy! And he began to battle against the bourgeoisie in The Bedbug – and that at a time when the crackdown on Czech dissidents was particu-larly newsworthy. It is no wonder that the repertoire of “Choreographic Miniatures” was under particular surveillance: the choreographer, having first acquired his own company at the age of sixty-five, was absolutely gushing with ideas and he staged them with youthful tirelessness.”
Tatiana Kuznetsova. Kommersant
“Had Leonid Yakobson (1904–1975) lived not in the USSR during an age of ideologically restrained art but rather somewhere else and at another time, then it would not only be professionals and enlightened audiences that would be celebrating his birth one hundred years later. But Yakobson lived and worked in an era in which encyclopaedias would list his profession of ‘choreographer’ alongside the adjective ‘Soviet’. Living behind the Iron Curtain, he indeed remained a comparative unknown throughout the world, although Yakobson’s significance in the history of ballet is no less than that of Petipa or Balanchine.”
Maya Krylova. Nezavisimaya Gazeta