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Alina Cojocaru

Jane Simpson

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The Royal Ballet's website is showing that Cojocaru has been replaced in all her planned performances before her Bayaderes at the end of January - no explanation so far but possibly it's a continuation of the problem with her neck which has caused her to cancel a lot of performances over the summer.

Roberta Marquez replaces her in Swan Lake and Ondine, Leanne Benjamin in Manon, Marianela Nunez does her Nutcrackers with Kobborg, and there's no replacement yet shown for her her in Voluntaries or Theme and Variations.

Benjamin herself is replaced by Mara Galeazzi in the Manons she was originally scheduled for, with Edward Watson.

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Ismene Brown interviews Cojocaru about her injury and the long road back, to coincide with her Giselle tonight:

Evening Standard

However Cojocaru has dropped out of her first scheduled performance of Les Sylphides on May 4th - but she will do her later shows as scheduled, partnered by Johan Kobborg rather than Federico Bonelli.

It was good to get the details kind of first hand of Miss Cojocaru's recovery which led to a return to the stage tonight where the Royal Opera House audience gave a standing ovation to her the like of which I

have not witnessed for many decades. What made the response extraordinary was that it was not a typical ballet audience but they were aware that they were watching something that has touched them deeply and the dancing by the two principles was more than laudable, it was illustrative of what force Romantic Ballet can have in the right hands. Here was no sham Romantic style, here was as good an evocation as one might hope to see. Older ballet connoisseurs were out in number and one found oneself saying hello to people not seen for some time. I will write more tomorrow when I have finished celebrating. I hope that you Jane and others will also give us your impressions.

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The Royal Ballet was once an academic classical ballet company that danced demi-classical and neo-classical works and they performed them exceptionally well. The guiding aesthetic was that of Frederick Ashton while the organisation skill was provided at first by Dame Ninette de Valois. Today dancers of this company are expected to perform works in a manner contrary to academic classical ballet methods of training and performance. So that when dancers come to perform a Romantic Ballet, the correct aesthetic, even if tempered by Marius Petipa’s classical take on the choreography there is a need to adapt to the correct Romantic style of performing “Giselle.”

The only guide we have to dancing “Giselle” as a Romanic ballet, is “La Sylphide” and the Royal Danish Ballet repertoire tradition. With RDB at their best, they perform with a real dramatic expression and a continuous flow of movement that suggests flight. I suspect the other authentic aspect of their performances is their ability to impersonate characters of all types, set against the lively human activity of their characterful ballets.

On April 22, Alina Cojocaru returned to the public audience stage after many months away from performing, to assume the role of “Giselle.”

Partnered lovingly by Johann Kobborg, this extraordinary partnership expressed a rare refinement of style achieving a miracle of Romanticism in which every dramatic and choreographic moment was shaped by the correct emploi.

Cojocaru looks the quintessential Giselle. Young, truly innocent a real simple peasant girl who convinces from the moment she stepped out of her mothers cottage. She is confused by the appearance of this stranger Albrecht and Kobborg realising this, gently and swiftly convinces her that she should not be afraid of him. The interplay that follows is both touching and romantic at a level that brings an expressive reality to their meeting. Here Kobborg’s Albrecht gently leads Giselle to trust him and in the short time they are given, she haltingly begins to respond. Miss Cojocaru is sweetness personified, gentle, open and so subtly expressive in her naïve submission to his wooing. Where, when and how does a dancer become Giselle? In my lifetime not many dancers have assumed the miracle of the two portrayals of Giselle in this ballet and in the first act none seemed any more expressive than Cojocaru in what I feel was a truly Romantic reading of the role.

Kobborg and Cojocaru moved with exquisite lightness of their dances. He had recovered his best form with high flowing elevation and perfection in beats with an appropriate weight of execution that I expect few today can stylistically equal.

When her betrayal becomes apparent, Cojocaru reveals a whole physically internalised response and quickly becomes broken, lost, roaming the stage in utter despair. The atmosphere in the Opera House caused by this rapt audience was palpable.

In Act 2, their performances achieved great heights and the beauty of execution of steps, were a joy. Kobborg was remarkable in this act and it was one of those occasions when an audience suddenly realised they are watching something sensational. After his variation the audience, despite the music moving on, kept applauding and it was seven or eight bars before they subsided.

Giselle flowed and floated and so did Albrecht. Dancing was everything and the audience were lost in the magical performance that had unfolded before them. When the curtain came down the tumult was extraordinary. Flowers were thrown in hundreds Miss Cojocaru was presented with extravagant bouquets and the applause became almost deafening when stamping of feet (yes at the ROH) was added by hundreds of among the audience. The response went beyond audience warmth and extraordinarily the whole of the stalls as one stood to applaud, as did the rest of us. The tribute to her and Kobborg was complete.

Miss Cojocaru became Giselle, touching and naïve in character and I thought she now realised her interpretation with a newly assumed status of the powerful performer and projecting the drama so arrestingly while harmonising with the choreography at a very high level. Like all great interpreters, the eyes say so much in Giselle as well as body language and Miss Cojocaru was eloquent on both accounts. Were their moments when she seemed to falter after such a long time away from the stage? Not really. There were a few moments where completion of phrases were slightly faltering, indicating perhaps a lack of absolute stamina at present. In the interaction with her being handled by Albrecht, Hilarion and Berthe, some barely discernible caution was seemingly present.

Genesia Rosato played Berthe effectively enough but Thomas Whitehead as Hilarion did not. Sian Murphy as Bathilde played the role with rather too much disdain and too haughtily when giving the necklace to Giselle. This makes for nonsense of Giselle’s response to her in the mad scene, where she reacts to the lady who was so kind previously is now revealed as Albrechts fiancée. This Giselle showed it was too much, much to much for her thinking that both Bathilde and Albrecht have deceived her and killed her happiness.

The pas de six which I dislike, was brilliantly led by Yuhui Choe and Steven McRae the latter exhibiting true ballon, not so often seen on this stage.

Laura Morera danced Myrtha efficiently with no great elevation and for me little authority.

The orchestral performance of Adam’s/Minkus’s characterful score was driven with authority by Boris Gruzin.

As regards Cojocaru, given the opportunity, I believe there is even more to come from her in this role.

Was it a great performance? It was for me!

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This has been a marvelous story on so many levels. Thank you, leonid, for giving us such a vivid evaluation of ther long-awaited return.

Your post encouraged me to look again at their 2006 peformance, recorded on dvd. Last time I was deeply impressed by the detailing and the characterizations. You made it possible for me to look more closely at matters of style. An "extraordinary partnership" indeed. :yahoo:

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Was it a great performance? It was for me!

It was for me too. And for many many others.

When reading enthusiastic comments, I often think to exaggeration, but, believe me, this is not the case: it’s more understatement. :)

After such a long waiting it seems a dream to have seen such a miracle twice in five days.

After her first show, on the 18th, Alina Cojocaru said she started rehearsing Giselle only on Monday: 5 days for a masterpiece. As Leonid wrote, in those top level performances, there were some minor falters (if they can be called that way…after 5 days of rehearsing and 11 months without performances!) and she preserved herself a little bit in first act main solo, but the artistic level of the shows, the intensity, the spontaneity and the poetry, were extraordinary, close to perfection.

I remember Alina complaining after her recorded shows in 2006 that “when we dance Giselle here (in London) it seems that the magic never comes out”. Maybe just the tension caused by the cameras, but, even if those shows were beautiful, I knew she was right. Nevertheless I fully understood the complete sense of her words watching their Giselle in Madrid the past year and even more on Saturday and Wednesday: we all were transported in another world. The second act, especially, was just sublime.

Johan Kobborg was in fantastic form: a magnificent actor, as always the most perfect of partners and an absolutely brilliant dancer (his solo in the second act popped out on youtube few hours ago: watch it!).

What a joy to see again the splendid Cojocaru in full health and back on stage and what a joy to watch again that wonderful partnership: a rare and precious thing to preserve as the most valuable treasure. :yahoo:

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On April 22, Alina Cojocaru returned to the public audience stage after many months away from performing, to assume the role of “Giselle.”

Partnered lovingly by Johann Kobborg, this extraordinary partnership expressed a rare refinement of style achieving a miracle of Romanticism in which every dramatic and choreographic moment was shaped by the correct emploi...it was one of those occasions when an audience suddenly realised they are watching something sensational.

It happened again last Saturday (for record purpose, Feb 5, 2011). I don't think I can dare to report about it, and can just say I've learned when to use the word, 'sublime'. Hope someone leave a report here about this performance - I wish BT also has a record of this great performance.

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Alina just can't say no

by Valerie Lawson

Financial Review, 18 August 2012


"A ballerina at the peak of her career is blessed with many rewards, but there is one thing she can't conjure up at will – a choreographer who wants to make ballets especially for her.

This was the missing link in the career of Alina Cojocaru, one of the world's most acclaimed ballerinas. But then she discovered John Neumeier, the artistic director and choreographer of the Hamburg Ballet. Two years ago, Cojocaru became his muse."

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