New York Times review: Sexy Soviet Ballet Steps, Once Delivered as Protest

The New York Times reviewed a book presentation by Janice Ross and performance of Leonid Yakobson’s work by San Francisco Ballet trainees at the 92nd Street Y.

From the review:

This was “The Hidden Erotic Body of Soviet Ballet,” a presentation by Janice Ross, a professor at Stanford and the author of a recent book about Yakobson, “Like a Bomb Going Off: Leonid Yakobson and Ballet as Resistance in Soviet Russia.” After an introduction by Ms. Ross, dancers performed excerpts from Yakobson’s “Pas de Quatre” (1971) and “Rodin” (1958). Nikolay Levitskiy and Vera Solovyeva, who were members of Yakobson’s company and who now stage his ballets, gave the dancers some coaching notes, and a panel discussed how much (or how little) of Yakobson’s legacy might be retrievable.

Early in her talk, Ms. Ross showed a photo of Pussy Riot, the Russian feminist protest group. “Before there was Pussy Riot, there was Yakobson,” she said. She presented Yakobson as artist who used ballet to challenge authoritarian rule. Under the threat of censorship (and potentially much worse), he resisted in covert ways, she said, “claiming ballet was innocuous while making it a weapon.”

Read the piece