Danish ballet dancer and choreographer Johan Kobborg, the director of the Romanian National Ballet Company, has decided to resign from this position after a conflict with the management of the Bucharest National Opera (ONB).
“It has been one of the hardest decisions to make, but given the current situation in the management of the Opera Nationala Bucuresti, I have no other choice,” Kobborg wrote in a press release he posted on Twitter. He said he would hand in his resignation on Tuesday, April 12.
Johan Kobborg, 43, has been a principal dancer with both the Royal Danish Ballet and the Royal Ballet in London before becoming the director of the Romanian National Ballet Company in December 2013.
In little over two years, he has managed to increase the notoriety of the ballet company by bringing famous international ballet productions to the Bucharest National Opera’s stage. The most recent such production was Manon, which was first performed in Romania on April 2 this year.
On April 4, the Bucharest National Opera changed its management and the scandal started. Romanian conductor Tiberiu Soare was appointed as interim general manager, replacing Ioan Dinca, who was suspended after being indicted for corruption.
One day later, on April 5, Johan Kobborg was removed from the position of artistic director of ONB’s ballet company. Tiberiu Soare explained that the decision was a legal one and that the position Kobborg had held until then was not included in ONB’s organization scheme and was a fictitious one. The Opera’s manager also said that the institution wanted to keep Kobborg as a member of the ballet.
However, the management’s decision was badly received by the ballet members and famous Romanian ballerina Alina Cojocaru, who is also Kobborg’s fiance, said that she would no longer perform the lead role in Manon.
Romania’s culture minister Vlad Alexandrescu intervened to solve the situation and on Friday announced that Tiberiu Soare would step down as interim general manager of the National Opera and Romanian conductor Vlad Conta would take his place. However, Soare remained a deputy general manager. Alexandrescu also said that Johan Kobborg accepted the newly created position of artistic director of the National Opera’s ballet company.
However, the peace only lasted over the weekend. On Monday, Kobborg announced that he would resign. He motivated his decision saying that the new interim director had asked him and Alina Cojocaru to lie about the reason she didn’t perform in Manon on April 10 and to say that it was because her partner, famous German dancer Friedemann Vogel, could not come, Kobborg wrote on his Facebook page. He was also angry that Vlad Conta asked him to work with Tiberiu Soare.
“Vlad Conta would have wanted me to collaborate with a man who, a couple of days ago, was threatening the dancers that he would fire them, a man who refused to talk to the dancers in any other language but Romanian,” Kobborg said.
He also said that the new management tore apart his beliefs in the institution’s future and that he could not continue to be part of such a management team without compromising his work, ethics, and morals.
“It breaks my heart to leave such beautiful dancers and people behind and I fear for what the future might bring for the Opera Nationala Bucuresti and for the credibility of Romanian culture and the light in which the Romanian culture will be viewed,” he wrote in his open resignation letter.
The representatives of the Bucharest National Opera haven’t made any comments on Kobborg’s statements.