From mid-January to early February, the company of the Leonid Yacobson Ballet Theatre travelled across France and Switzerland, giving performances of The Nutcracker and Giselle. This extensive tour spanned three weeks, seven cities, and twelve shows.
In spite of the political tensions, European audiences gave the Saint-Petersburg theatre a warm, heartfelt welcome.
The tour featured classical ballet shows: The Nutcracker, with music by Pyotr Tchaikovsky and choreography by Vasili Vainonen, and Giselle, with music by Adolphe Adam and choreography by Jean Coralli, Jules Perrot, and Marius Petipa.
The company performed at the Théâtre Le Forum in Fréjus on January 15; at the Théâtre de l’Olivier in Istres on January 17; at the Opéra Théâtre de Saint Etienne in Saint Etienne on January 23 and 24; at the Palais des Congrés et de la Culture du Mans in Le Mans on January 27; at the Opéra de Massy in Massy on January 29, 30, and 31; and at the Théâtre de la Fleuriaye in Carquefou on February 3 and 4.
The Russian dancers' tour received coverage by the local press, and the impressive array of glowing reviews by ballet critics was joined by several flattering publications in the leading French media.
What is more, the French impresarios have extended yet another tour invitation, offering the ballet company to come to Massy in late 2016. During this new tour, the dancers will perform five ballets from the Leonid Yacobson Theatre's classical repertoire, accompanied by the Opéra de Massy symphony orchestra.
On January 20 and 21, the ballet company also showed The Nutcracker to audiences from the Swiss city of Freiburg, at the local Théâtre Equilibre theatre. This was the same venue where, almost a year before, in March 2014, the Leonid Yacobson Theatre soloist Alla Bocharova, alongside other stars of the Russian ballet, had taken part in the Tribute to Vaslav Nijinsky gala, and performed the pas de deux from Giselle. Other event participants had included dancers from Bolshoi, Mariinsky, and Mikhailovsky theatres, as well as the Boris Eifman Ballet Theatre. The gala had marked the start of the Swiss Season in Russia and the Russian Season in Switzerland — a special initiative commemorating the 200th anniversary since the day when diplomatic relations were first established between the two countries. It had also rung in the Year of Russian Culture in Switzerland, the most large-scale transnational cultural event in the shared history of Russia and Switzerland.
Consequently, the return of Russian ballet to Switzerland — represented by the Leonid Yacobson Company's stunning rendition of the legendary Nutcracker in early 2015 — was not only something that had been long expected by the Swiss audience, but also turned out to be a real triumph.