Romania’s culture minister resigns as ballet dispute continues


Alina Cojocaru and Johan Kobborg, performing with American Ballet Theater in 2012.Credit Andrea Mohin/The New York Times

PARIS — The Romanian Minister of Culture tendered his resignation on Wednesday in crisis at the Bucharest National Opera ballet company involving its artistic director, Johan Kobborg, and star ballerina Alina Cojocaru, which led to the cancellation of several performances.

In one post on their Facebook pageVlad Alexandrescu said he was resigning after failing to resolve a dispute at the opera which had pitted his management against Mr Kobborg, former director of the Royal Danish Ballet and the Royal Ballet in London, and Ms Cojocaru, director of the English National Ballet, who returned to her native Bucharest as a permanent guest artist.

The couple, who are engaged, had raised the profile of the ballet company internationally and brought in new dancers and repertoire. But on April 12, both resigned after new management demoted Mr. Kobborg from the post of artistic director on the company’s website, placing his name among the “artists”, as the members of the corps de ballet are called. .

Although there was an immediate outcry from dance fans on social media, internal tensions and resentments within the company were also reported. a protester at a rally outside the opera house denounced the pair as “outsiders”.

After Mr. Kobborg and Ms. Cojocaru resigned on April 12, Romanian Prime Minister Dacian Ciolos met with Ms. Cojocaru, one of Romania’s best-known cultural figures.

Last week, Mr Alexandrescu helped negotiate an arrangement for the couple to return to the ballet company for three months under an interim director.

On Tuesday, however, a letter sent to the Bucharest National Opera’s security service said that Ms Cojocaru, Mr Kobborg and seven others, including the former acting director general, could only enter the premises if they were accompanied by security personnel.

On the same day, the Deputy Prime Minister, Vasile Dancu, met Mr. Kobborg and Ms. Cojocaru. On his Facebook page, Mr. Kobborg wrote: “Mr. Dancu showed a real interest in discovering details about our activity, our work approach, as well as our artistic vision. He added: “We wish to continue our work with our colleagues from the Bucharest National Opera for the prestige of Romania in the world”.

In his letter of resignation, Mr. Alexandrescu, a specialist in modern Europe, said he was resigning “in the face of resistance to structural change” that he had tried to implement in Romanian cultural institutions, including its opera, its museums and its national. film fund, to bring them into line with European standards.

Helen D. Jessen