“In Gaynor Mindens I am free to take my dancing to my highest possible level, because I never worry about consistency, durability, comfort, or quietness. I cannot imagine going back to a traditional pointe shoe.”
Alina Cojocaru, international ballet star and Principal Dancer at England’s Royal Ballet* personifies the generous spirit of ballet. When asked by Gaynor Minden to endorse our pointe shoes she agreed on one condition: instead of accepting a fee, she asked that we supply pointe shoes to the dancers of the Opera Nationala din Bucuresti, the national ballet company in her native Romania.
In making her request, Cojocaru explained that she had just returned from Bucarest where life for the dancers, she said “is very hard.” Severe political and economic problems make buying pointe shoes and other necessities extremely difficult and sometimes impossible. The plight of her friends and colleagues moved Cojocaru to offer what would have been her entire compensation so that the Romanian dancers could get the shoes they needed.
A native of Bucharest, Cojocaru trained in Kiev for several years before winning a prestigious Prix de Lausanne scholarship to London’s Royal Ballet School in 1998. She then returned to the Ukraine as a Principal Dancer at the Kiev Ballet where she danced for one year before joining the England’s premiere troupe, the Royal Ballet. Cojocaru rocketed through the ranks to become a Principal at the Royal in 2001. When sidelined by a foot injury her physiotherapist recommended Gaynor Minden pointe shoes. Read the whole story: Careers Restored.
Her roles include the leading parts in Swan Lake, Giselle, Romeo and Juliet,La Bayadere, the Ashton repertoire and many other works. Her petite size and delicate, waif-life quality, belie the steely strength and formidable technique her repertoire requires.
“The most difficult steps unfolded with preternatural ease,” wrote Robert Gottlieb in The New York Observer, “Everything about her pleases; she’s one of those dancers whose claim is so great that audiences not only admire them but love them.”
And the legendary Clement Crisp said in The Financial Times, “The great joy of this first night was the dancing of Alina Cojocaru as Aurora. Such grace and felicity in execution, and unaffected elegance in living in the music, were worthy of the greatest traditions of the ballet at Covent Garden. It was the performance of a wonderfully gifted ballerina.”
*Editor’s note: Alina joined the English National Ballet in July of 2013.
Giselle photo by Susanne Bjerg, others by Johan Persson