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Irina Jacobson

Hailed as one of the great Soviet ballerinas, Irina Pevzner Jacobson followed her dance career by becoming the authority on staging nineteenth- and twentieth-century Romantic and Classical ballets. In 1933 Jacobson entered the Leningrad Choreographic School, and at fourteen went on to the State Academic Theatre for Opera and Ballet (later called Kirov). She graduated at the top of her class in 1943 and joined the Kirov Ballet in 1944, where she performed until 1964. She married choreographer Leonid Jacobson in 1953 and danced both classical ballets and ones he wrote for her, including his iconic and explosive Jewish Wedding. After retiring from the stage, she earned a teaching degree from the Ballet Pedagogical College in 1966 but turned down an opportunity to become the school’s chief instructor because it would have meant joining the Communist Party, something she had resisted her whole life. Instead, she taught at the Leningrad Choreographic School, then helped her husband found his new Choreographic Miniatures troupe in 1970 and briefly ran the company herself after his death in 1975. She immigrated to America in 1982 and began traveling internationally to stage productions for ballets in Amsterdam, London, Hamburg, and San Francisco, finally settling down as the Hamburg Ballet’s ballet master in 2000. She published her husband’s discussion on Russian ballet, Letters to Noverre, in 2001.

Topics: Soviet Jewry, Dance

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Irina Jacobson.
Courtesy of Janice Ross.
Date of Birth

St. Petersburg

Dancer, Founder, Educator

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Irina Jacobson." (Viewed on December 2, 2020) <https://jwa.org/people/jacobson-irina>.


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