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Johan Kobborg staged “Don Quixote” at two venues in St. Petersburg


As per tradition, the Leonid Yakobson Ballet Theatre stages its biggest premiere of the year in December. This time its “Don Quixote”. The premiere which precedes 200 years since the birth of Marius Petipa and the official “Year of the Ballet” in Russia.


“Don Quixote” has been staged in many versions for 150 years. This time, St. Petersburg’s residents will be treated to a classic one – directed by the Dane Johan Kobborg.

Kobborg has had a long-standing relationship with “Don Quixote”. Graduate of the Royal Danish Ballet School and former lead dancer of the Covent Garden in London, Kobborg has performed in different versions of this ballet many times.

When the troupe of the Leonid Yakobson Theater decided to fill the stages of St. Petersburg with the Spanish sun, there was little doubt about who would be the choreographer. And Kobborg lived up to the challenge – creating a complex, vivid, modern and yet traditional performance.

Andrian Fadeev: “There are many tricks, many difficult moves for the dancers. And it requires huge emotional work from all actors, not just from the leading ones. Johan works on that every day, for many hours. He pays great attention to every person present on the stage”.

Johan Kobborg, choreographer: “Relationship between the characters is very important to me. I pay huge attention to supernumeraries and rehearsals. So that people can see the performance and reaction by all characters”

As long as there are no Ballet notations remaining, every choreographer has a certain degree of freedom. And every one of them finds one’s own way to fight fragmentation of “Don Quixote”. Kobborg introduced the role of Cervantes into the prologue, changed the running order of the dances and re-worked the secondary characters’ roles. His Sancho Panza is in love, and is charming and light-mooded.

Every move on the stage corresponds with the decorations. Those were created by world-famous Jerome Kaplan – and this has been his third “Don Quixote”. For the theatre which is always on the road and has no own stage, Kaplan used only light constructions and painted cloths, based off famous paintings by one of Don Quixote’s illustrators – Gustave Dore.

Jerome Kaplan, artist and decorator: “The paintings instill Spanish overtones into the decorations. Many vivid colors, but a lot of black too. I also looked at the paintings for inspiration when designing costumes – adding black lines and underlying silhouettes. I like such graphic imagery”

Fast-paced and life-loving, this ballet is loved by the public. Today its staged at the BDT, on the 19th its at Alexandrinka – and after that wherever the fate takes it. Just like a roving knight, “Don Quixote” will be travelling from one stage to the other.