Johan Kobborg, photo by Taylor-Ferné Morris
Something's going on at the National Ballet of Romania, but it's not clear what. On Tuesday, Johan Kobborg started a social media frenzy after writing:
"It is with a heavy heart I find my name removed as artistic director of the ONB company. I have nothing but love for the dancers. I will dream of one day returning and finishing what we started. I am sorry dancers that I didn't get a chance to tell you personally. Be strong. You are all beautiful."
It turns out, his name wasn't removed from the company's website altogether; in an incredibly odd move, it was simply relocated to be listed as one of the "artists," otherwise known as the corps de ballet.
It's hard to get exact details because most of the information available at this time is in Romanian. But we do know the change happened within 24 hours of the arrival of ONB interim director Tiberiu Soare. According to Dance Europe, although Kobborg was performing all of the artistic director duties at the company, he was never formally contracted as artistic director because that particular position doesn't exist within the organization (which also includes the opera). It seems that Soare is insisting on correcting formal titles.
Kobborg and Cojocaru, photo by Taylor-Ferné Morris
Whatever the reason, it's an insult to Kobborg, who has raised the company's profile worldwide, and generated incredible acclaim for his work with the dancers and the rep he's brought in. Nonetheless, the odd move may not be so surprising. As Kobborg explained to writer Gia Kourlas in our March issue, he has been taking an unconventional approach to a company that was largely stuck in the past and mired down by bureaucratic hurdles when he arrived. His latest update on social media says that while he doesn't care about titles, he fears this move marks a return to former management styles, so he's decided to take a stand.
So far, there are reports that the dancers have stopped rehearsing, and are threatening not to dance in this weekend's performances of Manon. Alina Cojocaru, Kobborg's partner of many years and a guest star with the company, posted on Twitter that she had not been contacted by the interim director, and would only perform if Kobborg was serving as the company's leader.
We're keeping our fingers crossed for a quick resolution. Kobborg—and the dancers—deserve it.
UPDATE: On Tuesday, April 12, Kobborg handed in his resignation. Read more at romania-insider.com.