Johan Kobborg (Director & Choreographer)
Trained at The Royal Danish Ballet School before joining The Royal Danish Ballet as an apprentice in 1989. He immediately took on soloist and leading roles within the repertoire and quickly rose through the company ranks, culminating with an on-stage promotion to principal dancer following his debut as James in La Sylphide in 1995.
Mr. Kobborg was a principal dancer with The Royal Ballet between 1999 and 2013, while simultaneously performing as a guest artist with major ballet companies around the world, including American Ballet Theatre, The Bolshoi Ballet, National Ballet of Canada, The Mariinsky Ballet, La Scala Ballet, Vienna State Opera Ballet, Tokyo Ballet, The Australian Ballet and Hamburg Ballet.
Several of his performances has been the subject of cinema relays, broadcasts, and DVD recordings. These include Giselle; Cinderella; Don Quixote; Swan Lake; Onegin; The Sleeping Beauty; The Dream; A Folk Tale; Hamlet; Bournonville Ballet Technique; Mime Matters; and the historic live BBC broadcast celebrating the Reopening of The Royal Opera House.
He has performed at galas throughout the world including The World Ballet Festival in Tokyo, and Stars of the 21st Century in Canada and the USA. He is charter member of the touring ensemble Kings of the Dance.
Mr. Kobborg has performed alongside some of the world’s foremost ballerinas in a repertoire, ranging from the great 19th century classics by Petipa, Bournonville and others, to the works of contemporary choreographers such as Robbins, Balanchine, Cranko, Ashton, MacMillan, Neumeier, Lander, Taylor, Tudor, Nureyev, Forsythe, Kylian, Martins, Ratmansky, Scarlett and Wheeldon. He has had several ballets created on him, these include works by Flemming Flindt, Peter Schaufuss, Liam Scarlett, Christopher Wheeldon, Tim Rushton, David Bintley, Michael Corder, Kim Brandstrup, Eric Gauthier, William Tuckett, Ashley Page, Anna Lærkesen, Yuka Oishi, and Natalia Horecna among others.
At The Royal Ballet he forged a significant and widely celebrated partnership with ballerina Alina Cojocaru with whom he was also the subject of an hour-long South Bank Show television special.
Mr. Kobborg has won numerous Awards and Prizes. They include Gold and Grand Prix at the 1994 USA International Ballet Competition; Gold at the 1994 Rudolf Nureyev Competition. He is the winner of the 1993 Erik Bruhn Competition in Toronto, and was awarded third prize at the 1991 Eurovision Competition in Helsinki. He was a finalist at the at the fourth biennial Concours International de Danse de Paris in 1990. Mr. Kobborg received the Critics’ Circle National Dance Award for Best Male Dancer in 2001.
In 2006 he was nominated for the Lawrence Olivier Award for his performance as The Teacher in Flemming Flindt’s The Lesson. In 1996 he was nominated for the Benois de la Danse for his role as James in La Sylphide. He is the recipient of many Danish ballet Grants and Awards.
Since 2005 he has also distinguished himself as a choreographer with leading companies, creating work for The Royal Ballet, Bolshoi Ballet, Royal Danish Ballet, Zürich Ballet, National Ballet of Canada, San Francisco Ballet, Lithuanian National Ballet, Leonid Yakobson Ballet, NBA Ballet Tokyo, Royal New Zealand Ballet, The Sarasota Ballet, Atlanta Ballet, The Czech National Ballet among others.
Mr. Kobborg’s creations include both original works and re-worked traditional ballet productions. These include Les Lutins, which since its premiere at The Royal Opera House in 2009 has been performed regularly at galas and festivals around the world and is today in the repertoire of some of the world’s foremost dancers. His re-imagined Cinderella premiered in 2021 at the Bunka Kaikan Theatre in Tokyo. It was created on Akane Takada of The Royal Ballet and Tokyo’s NBA Ballet.
His One-Act version of Romeo & Juliet created for Alina Cojocaru and Sergei Polunin was performed in 2019 at the Arena Di Verona and again in 2021 at the Royal Albert Hall, London.
Mr. Kobborg’s Don Quixote premiered in St. Petersburg in 2017 and has since been streamed worldwide as part of the 2019 Golden Mask Awards, for which the production was nominated for a total of seven Awards, including Best Production and Best Choreographer. The production has been performed at the Bolshoi Theatre, the Mariinsky Theatre, the Stanislavsky Theatre, and the Alexandrinsky Theatre end toured throughout Russia and Europe.
Giselle, created and co-choreographed in 2013 with Ethan Stiefel for the Royal New Zealand Ballet, has toured extensively throughout Europe and Asia and was the subject of acclaimed film director Toa Fraser’s 2013 feature film Giselle - The Movie.
Mr. Kobborg’s La Sylphide production first premiered at the Royal Ballet in 2005. The production has received several awards and nominations, including three Golden Masks in 2009 (for Best Production and Best Choreographer), Performance of the Year in Romania 2014, and a 2006 Lawrence Olivier Award nomination for Best Ballet/Dance Production. The 2008 Bolshoi production was streamed to cinemas worldwide in 2013 and 2018.
Other creations include several shorter works, solos, and divertissements, most notably is Salute from 2010, which has been performed by many companies, including the Royal Danish Ballet, the Royal New Zealand Ballet and the Sarasota Ballet
He was the ballet advisor and lead choreographer on the 2018 feature film The White Crow about the early life of Rudolf Nureyev, directed by Ralph Fiennes.
Mr. Kobborg has produced and directed several galas. They include Out of Denmark, Queen Elizabeth Hall 2003, Tivoli Gala, Copenhagen 2001, and Verdens Balletten, with annual summer performances in Denmark, Sweden and Norway, from 2005 until 2014. He was the co-producer/director for Alina at the Sadler’s Wells (2020) and Alina Cojocaru’s Dream Project in Japan (2012/2014/2020) as well as the Hospices of Hope Galas at Queen Elizabeth Hall, London, 2008 and at Sadler’s Wells, London, 2013. He has also co-presented Alina Cojocaru, Johan Kobborg & Friends in Florida 2014, and toured The Bournonville Group in Italy, 1999.
From 2013 until 2016 he was the Artistic Director of The National Ballet in Bucharest (ONB), Romania. During his tenure the company saw a rise in both performance output and overall quality with an influx of young creative talent joining the company. Audience attendances numbers rose significantly with the enrichment and inclusion in the repertoire of works by choreographers such as Alexei Ratmansky, Yuri Possokhov, Jiri Kylian, William Forsythe, Frederick Ashton, Kenneth MacMillan, George Balanchine, Jerome Robbins, Ethan Steifel and Johan Kobborg. Alongside Alina Cojocaru, and a host of other stars, the company performed at the Lincoln Center NY, 2015, in a programme titled Opera National Bucharest in New York. The ONB Company nominations in 2015 included Performance of the Year by Dance Europe and Company of the Year in both Dance Europe and Tanz Magazine.
Johan Kobborg received the Knight Order of Dannebrog from Queen Margrethe II of Denmark, 2013.