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Alina Cojocaru (born 27 May 1981) is a female principal dancer with The Royal Ballet of London.

Early years

Alina Cojocaru was born and raised in Bucharestmarker, Romania. She has one sister. From a young age she studied gymnastics. Later she began ballet classes, despite never having seen a live ballet.


At the age of 7 or 8 she began gymnastic classes, progressing at the age of 9 to a Bucharest ballet school which acted as a feeder for the Romanian State Ballet school. Later the same year she took and passed the entrance exam for the school and a few months later was chosen (with 8 other Romanian students) by the director of the Kiev Ballet school to take part in a student exchange.

She left her family to train at the school, and did not speak any Russian. Initially, Cojocaru and the other Romanian students were taught separately, before being integrated with the other students in the third year.

The ballet school gave a public performance every six months and it was in one of these performances that Cojocaru made her debut, dancing the role of Amor in Don Quixote.

In January 1997, aged 16, she competed in the Prix de Lausanne, a prestigious international ballet competition. She won the gold medal, winning a six month scholarship to train at the Royal Ballet Schoolmarker in London. She moved to London that same year to commence her training, but did not speak any English.

Professional career

After completing her six months training with the Royal Ballet School, Cojocaru was offered a contract to join The Royal Ballet as a member of the corps de ballet. She was also offered a contract to join the Kiev Ballet as Principal. She subsequently joined Kiev Ballet in November 1998, believing she would gain greater experience as a Principal dancer. She stayed for one season, dancing a variety of roles.

Whilst dancing with Kiev Ballet, Cojocaru re-applied to the Royal Ballet in London, but was only invited to audition for the corps de ballet. She attended an audition for the company whilst on leave from Kiev Ballet and was offered a contract. Doubtful of development opportunities elsewhere, she accepted the contract and joined the company in November 1999. She was then promoted to Principal at the Royal Ballet in London in 2001.

Cojocaru's early appearances with the company included performing in the opening gala for the refurbished Royal Opera Housemarker, plus appearances with the corps de ballet in the Kingdom of the Shades from La Bayadère, as a snowflake in The Nutcracker and as a doll in Coppélia.


In 2008, during rehearsal, Alina Cojocaru suffered a whiplash injury that could have ended her career. But after surgery, she has returned to dancing.


Cojocaru's performance as Clara in Peter Wright's Royal Ballet production of The Nutcracker was taped and first telecast in the U.S. in 2001. It is available on DVD. Her performance as Aurora in the Royal Ballet's new production of The Sleeping Beauty has not been telecast in the U.S. yet, but has become available on DVD.

Sources - Interview with Alina Cojocaru



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