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Alina Cojocaru and Johan Kobborg to leave The Royal Ballet at the end of 2012/13 season

Principals' final performance at Covent Garden in Mayerling on 5 June.

By Chris Shipman (Head of Brand Engagement and Social Media)

3 June 2013 at 12.03pm | 63 Comments

Alina Cojocaru and Johan Kobborg have announced they will leave The Royal Ballet at the end of the 2012/13 season to pursue other artistic challenges. Their last performance at the Royal Opera House as members of The Royal Ballet will be in Mayerling on 5 June. They will fulfil their touring engagement with the Company with their scheduled performances on 10 and 12 July in Tokyo. They will both continue dancing and will shortly announce their future plans.

Kevin O’Hare, Director of The Royal Ballet, said:

'Alina and Johan have given many memorable performances as members of The Royal Ballet both at the Royal Opera House and around the world. Over the past ten years I have greatly enjoyed watching their unique partnership develop, as I know our audiences have, and I wish them every success in the next phase of their careers.'

Alina Cojocaru and Johan Kobborg joined The Royal Ballet in 1999. Speaking about their decision to leave the Company, they said:

'We have had wonderful experiences with The Royal Ballet over the years and feel fortunate to have worked alongside so many inspiring artists. We wish Kevin O’Hare and The Royal Ballet's  dancers and staff all the best for the future and would like to thank our loyal and supporting audience for sharing many magical moments with us.'

By Chris Shipman (Head of Brand Engagement and Social Media)

3 June 2013 at 12.03pm

This article has been categorised Ballet and tagged Alina Cojocaru, Johan Kobborg

This article has 63 comments

  1. David Wakefield responded on 3 June 2013 at 12:08pm Reply

    This is a shattering news. They have given us so much. Surely there will be a farewell performance to allow us a chance to express our gratitude and affection?

  2. May responded on 3 June 2013 at 12:17pm Reply

    Incredible! Everyone is leaving, it seems! Tamara Rojo danced her last shows in winter this year, then Mara Galeazzi and Leanne Benjamin and now Alina Cojocaru and Johan Kobborg are leaving after summer's performances of Mayerling!!

  3. Karen responded on 3 June 2013 at 12:25pm Reply

    Must admit that while others leaving has been saddening, this is devastating. Since they guest elsewhere can they not either jointly or severally as it were, guest at the RB? And in any case an opportunity to say farewell for those of us who have enjoyed and supported them for many years would be very appreciated....

    • Mircea responded on 3 June 2013 at 2:00pm

      I fully agree with Karen - this is terrible news indeed. Alina and Johan will be missed by many here in London!

    • Joanne responded on 19 June 2013 at 3:49am

      Yes, this is shattering. They were the RB's main attraction and Alina has to be one of the best ballerinas of her generation. So delicate. So articulate. I'm so thankful I had tickets to watch their last performance of Mayerling at Covent Garden - unbeknownst that it would be their last upon booking months ago! Waiting with bated breath to see where they will surface!

  4. Maria José Pascual responded on 3 June 2013 at 1:22pm Reply

    The question is: why so many principals are leaving?

  5. Natalia Meylunas responded on 3 June 2013 at 1:35pm Reply

    A pity! They are both absolutely brilliant.
    Whom are we going to see next season?

    • Ellen West (Head of Creative Studios and Digital Products) responded on 3 June 2013 at 1:40pm

      We'll let you know as soon as we can, Natalia.


  6. Amanda Kayser responded on 3 June 2013 at 2:11pm Reply

    So sad that they are leaving. I remember every one of their performances together as special and memorable. They will be missed and I wish them both every success and happiness for the future ... All good things come to an end but I hope they will come back as guest artists.

  7. richard austen responded on 3 June 2013 at 3:01pm Reply

    Stunned. Horrible to think I may have seen them for the last time. Above all though, absolutely huge thanks to them both for so many exhilarating performances, and best of luck for a similarly glittering future.

  8. Lynn Inglese responded on 3 June 2013 at 3:28pm Reply

    Too bad, all I can say is: I have to travel over 10,000 miles to see these two - wherever they end up, maybe I won't have to travel so far - anyway, many thanks for some great nights at the RB...Auntie Lynn in San Francisco

  9. Dana P. responded on 3 June 2013 at 3:54pm Reply

    Shocking news! Terrible year for RB, so far! However, I consider myself so lucky that I managed to see them dance in the recent years. They are an amazing couple. Their Onegin is the most beautiful and moving thing I have ever seen. I would like to hope that they won't leave London, though, and that we would still be able to see them dancing.

  10. Sandie responded on 3 June 2013 at 4:30pm Reply

    Absolutely stunned. What a great loss to the company. They have given us some truly magical performances and will be sadly missed.
    Will you be publishing revised cast lists before Friends Booking opens?

    • Chris Shipman (Head of Brand Engagement and Social Media) responded on 3 June 2013 at 4:37pm

      Hi Sandie,

      Cast lists will be amended for Friends Booking.


      Digital Content Producer

  11. midsman responded on 3 June 2013 at 4:31pm Reply

    So the last show is the day after tomorrow?
    Seems a very late announcement

  12. Stuart Dixon responded on 3 June 2013 at 6:15pm Reply

    Thank goodness I have got my tickets. I was expecting Johan to announce something after he tweeted that June 5th would be special but not losing Alina as well. Hope everything is well because to lose one principal dancer could be unlucky but to lose four or five sounds more than unlucky.

  13. Sylvia de Lacey responded on 3 June 2013 at 6:28pm Reply

    I am devastated! Every single performance was a very special experience. They are not only brilliant dancers, but are also able to convey emotions so well. They will be soarely missed. I wish them all the best for their future!

  14. Lee McLernon responded on 3 June 2013 at 6:31pm Reply

    Thanks Chris for confirming that cast lists will be amended before Friends Booking. Will those of us who have already booked be given the ability to receive a refund?

  15. Very sad news....

  16. Steve responded on 3 June 2013 at 7:46pm Reply

    What a blow! And I can't begin to say how many hours of pleasure Alina especially has given us over the past decade. A wonderful, wonderful dancer.

  17. Although I am concerned about how RB will manage their future performances in the new season, I am not surprised by the news of their decision to leave the company. It seems to me that they have lost their interest in dancing at Covent Garden.

  18. Michael responded on 3 June 2013 at 9:39pm Reply

    Very sad news, but not really a surprise to the regular RB audience. We should see Johan as choreographer in Vepres Siciliennes in the Autumn.

  19. David Wakefield responded on 4 June 2013 at 11:40am Reply

    Whatever the circumstances behind this abrupt departure, given their outstanding contribution and the special affection we all feel for them, I cannot believe that their time with us will be allowed to end with a whimper in this way. We must hope that plans are underway and that announcements are in the offing. Artists of this calibre should be properly honoured and we, the Royal Ballet’s supporters, should be given a proper opportunity to thank them. Clearly a special tribute performance is called for - perhaps La Sylphide since it was Johan who re-constructed it for the Royal Ballet as a major entry in the its repertoire.

    The way this has been allowed to happen is just plain wrong. Whatever the reasons the onus is on the Royal Ballet Management to put it right!

  20. Sheila Cross responded on 4 June 2013 at 12:46pm Reply

    Terrible news, they are such extraordinary dancers and artists. Alina was a remarkable Giselle from her first performance, notably in Act 2 when she exemplified to perfection Balanchine's view that through ballet we should see the music. Since then she has developed in to as compelling a dance actress as Johan is dance actor. We shall miss them greatly.

  21. Marc responded on 4 June 2013 at 3:19pm Reply

    I agree with koji moriya, I think they just lost interest dancing at rb. Alina's been performing at abt and other companies so I guess she wanted new things.

    Johan and Alina seem not to be the stars of rb anway during the past few years since Marianela surged her way up in front. I just now hope rb get new principals or promote some dancers. We'll just wish them all the luck in their future endeavors.

  22. Huge thanks to both - I have loved seeing them dance and wish them well - they really will be missed. Supporting Friends booking opened this am and the cast for Romeo and Juliet still shows Alina - not sure about other castings - but this has not been changed in time for our booking opening. I would think some will be very unhappy that this wasn't done more quickly - pretty inexcusable really.
    I was at Raven Girl last night and there were so many of the company injured or unwell that a few of us in the audience (as Symphony in C started rather late) started to wonder if they could actually go ahead. I feel a bit worried about the company at the moment in a odd way. Interestingly I only booked for one ballet Autumn season (and only to see Osipova) . . . unheard of for me.

  23. Peter Ellis responded on 4 June 2013 at 6:42pm Reply

    Terrible news on top of the other recent defections.
    It begs the question who we will want to see next season. Even Osipova will not replace Alina in many roles . Is it the lack of appropriate classical choreography of late to retain the top talent ? Some thoughtful and strategic reflection on the current crop of choreographers is required.

    • David Wakefield responded on 5 June 2013 at 4:14pm

      "Some thoughtful and strategic reflection on the current crop of choreographers is required" - I echo this comment. I worry that the 2013/4 programming seems to be taking the Company away from the Ashton/MacMillan heritage which defines the House style and which has been the draw to some of the finest of the world's dancers. I welcome the inclusion of new works of course but I do wonder how far the current high injury rate is linked to eager choreographers competing to prove their chops by seeking to take the human body into new places. Twas ever thus I guess but perhaps better to focus on budding choreographers steeped in the RB tradition? Speaking of which, given his track record, why, oh why was Johan's proven choreographic talent not encouraged by the Company? The Vepres Siciliennes gig must have seemed a poor recognition of his value to the Company as a choreographer.!

  24. Pamela Tan responded on 4 June 2013 at 11:42pm Reply

    Will cast lists be amended before Friends Advanced Booking Packages open on Friday 07June?

  25. Vicky Hurst responded on 5 June 2013 at 9:25am Reply

    I had a feeling something was happening as Johan wasn't down to dance next season but Alina as well - that's very sad. I feel very lucky that I have tickets for their show tonight. I have a streaming cold and cough and feel lousy and was wondering whether I could go but I will definitely be there now!

  26. Mia responded on 5 June 2013 at 2:06pm Reply

    Please don't go tonight if you have a cough! So unfair to everyone else in the audience!

    • Vicky Hurst responded on 6 June 2013 at 1:38pm

      Actually I wouldn't be that inconsiderate. I dosed up on cough sweets before the show started and in the intervals and didn't cough once!

  27. Teresa Guerreiro responded on 5 June 2013 at 6:50pm Reply

    OH NO! This is terrible news! We wish them the best, of course... but what a loss!

  28. Mally Scrutton responded on 6 June 2013 at 1:00am Reply

    Magical partnership which has transcended all others. We spotted Alina as Clara in Nutcracker many years ago and wondered how a child (!) could be as strong as steel. We have followed her wonderful career since that lovely performance and have been privileged to enjoy the spell that Johan and Alina cast whenever they dance together.
    As regular customers,frequently standing and always in the amphitheatre, we are heartbroken but wish them lots of happiness.

  29. Jen Jones responded on 6 June 2013 at 12:49pm Reply

    Genuinely devastated. What the hell is going on?! A major loss for the company.

  30. Charles responded on 6 June 2013 at 3:15pm Reply

    This is such sad news. They are the absolute best. I doubt that two dancers will ever induce such an emotional and visceral response from me ever again. I cried when I heard the news (crazy I know...I feel bereft!) and now I can't get Alina's last Onegin at the ROH out of my head.

    I hope they realise how much they have been appreciated and how much they will be missed. Two utterly wonderful performers.

  31. jacqueline partridge responded on 6 June 2013 at 6:09pm Reply

    Last nights performance was amazing i was lucky to be there for their last performance at ROH.

  32. caroline levy responded on 6 June 2013 at 6:41pm Reply

    Very sad to hear...Alina is such a beautiful performer in every way. Please Mr O'Hare, promote some home grown talent not buy in principals to replace them. Where are our British principals??

  33. Terry Carch responded on 7 June 2013 at 5:03am Reply

    jsust read in your new colum thjat Leanne Benjemin is leaving the rb too but you never mentioned her leaving. Guess she wasn`t given better and more oportunities with te rb.

  34. Liz T responded on 7 June 2013 at 12:02pm Reply

    I am really shocked and saddened to read the news that Alina and Johan are leaving the Royal Ballet. To find out that I have missed their final performance at Covent Garden as well is devastating as I would have liked to have been there. Johan and Alina have been the best pairing since Fonteyn and Nureyev in my opinion. PLEASE have a special final performance for their fans to be able to say a proper goodbye after several years of stunning performances.
    I am also really saddened to see that Leanne and Mara are leaving too. Perhaps a farewell performance for them all could be added to the summer programme? I wish them all every happiness and success in whatever they decide to do in the future. What is happening to the Royal Ballet?

  35. Peter Erdos responded on 8 June 2013 at 7:08pm Reply

    The secrets behind the sudden departures have finally come to light.It seems to me that the House is no longer the People's Opera House, it has been taken over by the oligarchs' and their mighty bank accounts !WE ordinary Friends of many years' standing are no longer considered, our opinions and criticisms are no longer taken into account.
    We live in real sad times!

    • Ellen West (Head of Creative Studios and Digital Products) responded on 9 June 2013 at 12:00pm

      Hi Peter

      Thanks for your comment. Have to admit that I don't understand the reference to oligarchs, but I'll certainly pass your feedback on.

      Best wishes


  36. H Randall responded on 8 June 2013 at 7:57pm Reply

    I'm absolutely devastated to hear this. I only ever go to the RB if Alina and Johan are dancing (or Carlos). The first time I saw them together was in a performance of Giselle in 2004, I cried which I've never done before or since. They've brought so much joy to people, I wish them all the best for the future.

    What a horrible year for the RB! But then it's never been the same since Monica Mason left

  37. Susan Kennedy responded on 8 June 2013 at 10:01pm Reply


  38. Anne responded on 9 June 2013 at 10:55am Reply

    While it is very sad that Alina and Johan are leaving, and it must be hoped that they will reappear as guests in the future, some of the comments above are a little OTT.

    Although of course they will be missed, their appearances have been limited recently, and they have not always given their scheduled performances.

    Also, although two other principal ballerinas are leaving, their departure is due to retirement, rather than 'defection'.

    Many excellent dancers remain in the company and there is a lot of up and coming talent.

  39. Lynne responded on 9 June 2013 at 6:21pm Reply

    I really am devastated. Of course there are many other wonderful dancers at the Royal Ballet, both at Principal level and right through the company but, for me, Alina and Johan have always been very special. Luckily I had a ticket for their final performance which was incredible, and they were both very generous with their time at the stage door – lovely people as well as amazing performers. I think what is upsetting everyone most is the suddenness of it all, coupled with the seeming finality in the wording of the press release. If there was a hint that there may be guest performances in the future, it might help their many supporters feel (a little) better …

  40. Liz Tebbutt responded on 9 June 2013 at 10:59pm Reply

    Following on from my earlier message, I have been thinking about the way we, the supporters, have been treated regarding the tardy announcement of the departure of Alina and Johan. I now find that there was a hint that 5th June was going to be a big day for Johan (other than his 41st birthday), so why was the announcement of their imminent last performance made only two days before their last performance? I feel that this shows a total lack of respect for those of us who have supported the Royal Ballet for many years and in particular, have followed and enjoyed so tremendously the wonderful and unique partnership of Alina and Johan. You should really think of a way to satisfy all their supporters by offering them a farewell performance so that we can see them dance together one more time. I am truly devastated! I cannot think of another couple who could mix amazing dance technique with incredible acting ability: a rare gift. They really dance from the heart. I will miss them and their wonderful performances. Good luck, Alina and Johan, and thank you so much!

    • Chris Shipman (Head of Brand Engagement and Social Media) responded on 10 June 2013 at 11:02am

      Hi Liz,

      Thanks for your comment. Please be assured that the announcement of the news was made as soon as we were able, and as soon as the Company was informed.


      Digital Content Producer

  41. Fran responded on 10 June 2013 at 10:46pm Reply

    Huge, heartfelt thanks to Johan and Alina for many years of incredible dancing at the Royal Ballet. Their performances have been a treasured highlight of the cultural calendar in London, and will be fondly missed! We’ve been lucky to have them for so long. I wish them great success and happiness in whatever they do next – and hope that it might include a performance of Onegin occasionally, somewhere, anywhere!

  42. Sandie responded on 11 June 2013 at 12:22pm Reply

    Hi again Chris. Friends booking is upon us but no clues as to who will now dance with Steven McRae in Don Q and R&J. (I was going ask who will replace Alina, but that is an impossibility!)
    The June 5th Mayerling will live with me forever!

    • Ellen West (Head of Creative Studios and Digital Products) responded on 11 June 2013 at 11:04pm

      Dear Sandie

      Ballet casting can take some time to establish. We are currently exploring options and will publish details as soon as we can.

      Best wishes


  43. Fi responded on 12 June 2013 at 5:18pm Reply

    This is pretty crushing; not just the news itself, but that the announcement comes so abruptly.

    Thank you very, very much to Alina and Johan for creating so many wonderful, peerless ballets; Covent Garden will not be the same. I do not believe there exists another pairing in the world so attuned to one another or capable of bringing anything close to their signature vortex of dramatic depth, flawless artistry and sensitive reading of both music and character to the Royal Opera House stage. As individual performers, they are incredible enough, but as a couple, they are irreplaceable.

    I hope that the Royal Opera House will piece together some semblance of a tribute to honour all that Alina and Johan have given, as well as to recognise their combined talents. I think a DVD of their signature 'Onegin' is long overdue, too.

    Best wishes to them for the future!

    • Ellen West (Head of Creative Studios and Digital Products) responded on 12 June 2013 at 6:53pm

      Thanks for your comments.

      On the ballet Onegin, we are unable to release a recording of this production on DVD due to copyright restrictions beyond our control.

      Best wishes


  44. Fi responded on 13 June 2013 at 3:13am Reply

    Such a shame re 'Onegin' and the subject of copyright. (How is it that La Scala have been able to release a production of Macmillan's 'Romeo' on DVD? Can nothing really be negotiated in that respect?) I hope we will see other performances released on DVD instead.

    • Ellen West (Head of Creative Studios and Digital Products) responded on 13 June 2013 at 8:29am

      We also have Romeo and Juliet on DVD - the issue is with the ballet rather than the performers.

      Best wishes


  45. Fi responded on 13 June 2013 at 12:51pm Reply

    Hello, thank you for the response; I am conscious that 'Romeo' has been released on various occasions from the Royal Ballet and Opus Arte, as I own a few of the productions (Ferri, Rojo, etc.). I was simply wondering how a copyright issue could hinder the Royal Ballet's releasing another company's production, i.e. Cranko's 'Onegin', if it did not hinder La Scala in the case of 'Romeo' and Macmillan? But no matter, though it's a shame. As I say, I hope we will see more of Alina and Johan on DVD from Covent Garden; both, for instance, filmed a 'Cinderella' all the way back in the 2000s and YouTube commentators clamour for it on the video postings; perhaps a DVD there? I do hope there's something forthcoming, at least, even if no suitable tribute can be organised. Frankly, I will buy anything with Alina and Johan dancing.

    • Ellen West (Head of Creative Studios and Digital Products) responded on 15 June 2013 at 8:38pm

      Thank you for your interest. We are active in trying to make our Ballet performances more accessible beyond the stage. However the complexities of copyright are too numerous to address in this forum and unfortunately we can't comment on specific recordings.

      Best wishes


  46. Fi responded on 16 June 2013 at 1:13pm Reply

    Hello again Ellen. Thank you for your comment; I understand and will hope to see other ballet recordings from Covent Garden in time. Many thanks. :)

  47. Filippo responded on 17 June 2013 at 4:26pm Reply

    This was terrible news! They will be missed so much (especially Alina!)
    But the question is why so many principals are leaving the RB?
    Alina leaves and a sub-standard dancer as Laura McCulloch has more space...ROH, where are you going?

  48. Joanne responded on 19 June 2013 at 3:52am Reply

    For those who weren't there, this was their very last curtain call. Telling that he whisked her away at the very end.

  49. John B responded on 25 June 2013 at 5:23pm Reply

    I was very surprised to hear about the sudden departure of Alina and Johan from the Royal Ballet, and I found Sara Crompton's article quite moving. The end of the couple's relationship with the Royal will leave a huge void, and I am curious to see what happens next at the ROH.

  50. No one can touch Alina's Giselle. Exquisite lines, light as gossamer, beautiful feet and technique, the definition of romanticism. I was equally moved by her and Johan's performance in Onegin - her heartbreak and his dark passion made this ballet an absolute classic. So glad to have seen their extraordinary talent in London, many thanks and best wishes to them.

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