At the age of fifteen, Romanian ballerina Alina Cojocaru won a scholarship at the prestigious Prix de Lausanne ballet competition to train at the Royal Ballet in London. She decided to become a Principal at the Kiev Ballet instead, but in 1999 she returned to the Covent Garden, becoming a soloist a year later then Principal in 2001. Her partnership with Dane Johan Kobborg is considered to be one of the greatest in the history of ballet. In 2012 she became the only ballerina to receive the Prix Benoisnde la Danse twice after her performance in John Neumeier’s LILI at the Hamburg Ballet.
The New York Times wrote “Alina Cojocaru’s line, her beautiful extension and airy jumps, her wraithlike weightless quality are all gorgeous. This is technique rendered invisible by artistry.”
In 2013 she left the Royal Ballet and became a Principle at the English National Ballet.
Alina signed this sketch I sent to her at the ENB and returned it along with a card thanking me for my letter and the drawing.
Multi award-winning English National Ballet star Laurretta Summerscales began dancing at the age of two and fifteen years later joined the company, moving up the ranks to First Soloist in 2013. This year she was promoted to Principal. It was announced on stage after performing the role of Medora in LE CORSAIRE at the London Coliseum by the ENB’s Artistic Director and Prima Ballerina Tamara Rojo.
“Laurretta is such a special dancer, her classical technique, her musicality and her emotional theatrical instinct, makes her a stage animal! And I have no doubt that she will be a Principal dancer with an International reputation,” she said.
I left this sketch to Laurretta at the ENB’s home near the Royal Albert Hall and she kindly signed and returned to me.
Tamara Rojo is the Canadian born Spanish ballet dancer who is the Artistic Director of the English National Ballet (ENB), as well as its Lead Principal. The Telegraph calls her “one of the greatest ballerinas alive today” she combines “talent, technique, brains, beauty and artistic ambition and interpretive brilliance” writes Mark Monahan. For more than a decade she was the star dancer at the Royal Ballet and still makes guest appearances.
Her latest project is Lest We Forget, a compelling quartet of strongly-styled pieces inspired by the centenary of The Great War, marking ENB’s debut at the Barbican.
Critics agree, it’s Tamara’s boldest move since she became director, and the most exciting. She commissioned three big name and radically different choreographers to create their first works for the ENB. Liam Scarlett’s No Man’s Land is about loss and longing, danced to the music of Liszt. Russell Maliphant’s Second Breath follows the men at the front and the mounting numbers of dead and Akram Khan’s Dust explores the impact of war on women and the changes it brings. Tamara and Akram perform a duet, which I sketch.
The Independent called it “moving and ambitious… dancing full of pain and power.” Tamara also featured in the new classy black and white Lexus ‘Poise’ commercial, which I’ve also included in the sketch.
Lest We Forget continues until Saturday 12 April 2014.