Alina Cojocaru and Johan Kobborg

Morgan Norman, Courtesy Cojocaru

Alina Cojocaru Has Fallen in Love With Offstage Partner Johan Kobborg "At Least Three Times"

Since her high-profile move from The Royal Ballet to English National Ballet in 2013, Romanian star Alina Cojocaru has been quietly forging her own path. In addition to creating major roles at ENB, including in Akram Khan's Giselle, the beloved 38-year-old ballerina now divides her time between London and Hamburg, where she enjoys a close creative relationship with John Neumeier. This month, she curates and headlines a new program at Sadler's Wells Theatre, which will include premieres by the likes of Tim Rushton.


For Alina at Sadler's Wells, you've opted to commission all-new works alongside Ashton's Marguerite and Armand. How did you select them?

I have produced a few things, but I want to make this one a bit more personal. To me, the journey of working with choreographers is fascinating. We'll have one new work by Tim Rushton that we actually started about 12 years ago. We wanted to do it for galas, and we had almost half of it all ready, but we never finished it. This time I thought: Right, we have a theater, so we have to make it!

You will perform it with your longtime offstage partner Johan Kobborg. How has your relationship evolved since he stopped performing full-time to direct and choreograph?

I was so nervous when I worked with him as a choreographer last summer, for his new Romeo and Juliet in Verona. I see his journey and I want to support it, because he's done the same with me. He's never made me feel that I shouldn't do something because it's not with him. Somehow, I no longer see him as the only person I love to dance with onstage; it just becomes very special when I do.

There is such a lightness to your way of moving onstage. Do you find it difficult to be more grounded?

Sometimes I'd say no, but Akram Khan would say yes! [laughs] We work so much to make things easy and light, to dance on top of the floor. But I do a lot of weight lifting in my cross-training, so if I have to connect with the ground, I have the strength and the power to enjoy that as well.

John Neumeier just created a leading role for you in his new ballet inspired by Tennessee Williams, The Glass Menagerie. What is he like in the studio?

I feel like every day I have a master class in creating a role, in discovering a language for the character. He gives so much information—about Tennessee Williams, the play, other plays. It's a full immersion.

Did the birth of your daughter change your approach to dancing?

It helped me to start trusting it more. Sometimes while training, we want to physically push to make things happen. When I was pregnant, my body did everything, and I realized that if I just let go of some things, by now it has a certain knowledge and coordination: It can make things happen for me, so I can actually enjoy it. When I'm tired now, I think, How can I use this? Maybe this role today could do with a bit of heaviness.

Which accomplishment are you most proud of so far in your life?

It would have to be the relationship I have with Johan. There were so many stages where life could have led us to drift apart: from dancing together to dancing apart, working apart… And instead, we discovered new sides of ourselves. That for me has been fascinating—to fall in love with the same person at least three times anew in my life.

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Peter Mueller, Courtesy Cincinnati Ballet

2020 Stars of the Corps: 10 Dancers Making Strides In and Out of the Spotlight

The corps de ballet make up the backbone of every company. In our Fall 2020 issue, we highlighted 10 ensemble standouts to keep your eye on. Click on their names and photos to learn more!

Dara Holmes, Joffrey Ballet

A male dancer catches a female dancer in his right arm as she wraps her left arm around his shoulder and executes a high arabesque on pointe. Both wear white costumes and dance in front of a blue backdrop onstage.

Dara Holmes and Edson Barbosa in Myles Thatcher's Body of Your Dreams

Cheryl Mann, Courtesy Joffrey Ballet

Wanyue Qiao, American Ballet Theatre

Wearing a powder blue tutu, cropped light yellow top and feather tiara, Wanyue Qiao does a piqu\u00e9 retir\u00e9 on pointe on her left leg and pulls her right arm in towards her.

Wanyue Qiao as an Odalisque in Konstantin Sergeyev's Le Corsaire

Gene Schiavone, Courtesy ABT

Joshua Guillemot-Rodgerson, Houston Ballet

Three male dancers in tight-fitting, multicolored costumes stand in positions of ascending height from left to right. All extend their right arms out in front of them.

Joshua Guillemot-Rodgerson (far right) with Saul Newport and Austen Acevedo in Oliver Halkowich's Following

Amitava Sarkar, Courtesy Houston Ballet

Leah McFadden, Colorado Ballet

Wearing a white pixie wig and a short light-pink tunic costume, a female ballet dancer poses in attitude front on pointe with her left arm bent across her ribs and her right hand held below her chin.

Leah McFadden as Amour in Colorado Ballet's production of Don Quixote

Mike Watson, Courtesy Colorado Ballet

Maria Coelho, Tulsa Ballet

Maria Coelho and Sasha Chernjavsky in Andy Blankenbuehler's Remember Our Song

Kate Lubar, Courtesy Tulsa Ballet

Alexander Reneff-Olson, San Francisco Ballet

A ballerina in a black feathered tutu stands triumphantly in sous-sus, holding the hand of a male dancer in a dark cloak with feathers underneath who raises his left hand in the air.

Alexander Reneff-Olson (right) as Von Rothbart with San Francisco Ballet principal Yuan Yuan Tan in Swan Lake

Erik Tomasson, Courtesy SFB

India Bradley, New York City Ballet

Wearing a blue dance dress with rhinestone embellishments and a sparkly tiara, India Bradley finishes a move with her arms out to the side and hands slightly flexed.

India Bradley practices backstage before a performance of Balanchine's Tschaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 2.

Erin Baiano, Courtesy NYCB

Bella Ureta, Cincinnati Ballet

Wearing a white dress with pink corset, Bella Ureta does a first arabesque on pointe in front of an onstage stone wall.

Bella Ureta performs the Act I Pas de Trois in Kirk Peterson's Swan Lake

Hiromi Platt, Courtesy Cincinnati Ballet

Alejándro Gonzales, Oklahoma City Ballet

Dressed in a green bell-boy costume and hat, Alejandro Gonz\u00e1lez does a saut\u00e9 with his left leg in retir\u00e9 and his arms in a long diagonal from right to left. Other dancers in late 19-century period costumes watch him around the stage.

Alejandro González in Michael Pink's Dracula at Oklahoma City Ballet.

Kate Luber, Courtesy Oklahoma City Ballet

Nina Fernandes, Miami CIty Ballet

Wearing a long white tutu and crown, Nina Fernandes does a saut de chat in front of a wintery backdrop as snow falls from the top of the stage.

Nina Fernandes in George Balanchine's The Nutcracker

Alexander Iziliaev, Courtesy Miami City Ballet

Evelyn Cisneros-Legate. Photo by Beau Pearson, Courtesy Ballet West

Ballet West Academy's New Director on Dream Building During COVID-19

Evelyn Cisneros-Legate is bringing her hard-earned expertise to Ballet West. The former San Francisco Ballet star is taking over all four campuses of The Frederick Quinney Lawson Ballet West Academy as the school's new director.

Cisneros-Legate, whose mother put her in ballet classes in an attempt to help her overcome her shyness, trained at the San Francisco Ballet School and School of American Ballet before joining San Francisco Ballet as a full company member in 1977. She danced with the company for 23 years, breaking barriers as the first Mexican American to become a principal dancer in the U.S., and has graced the cover of Dance Magazine no fewer than three times.

As an educator, Cisneros-Legate has served as ballet coordinator at San Francisco Ballet, principal of Boston Ballet School's North Shore Studio and artistic director of after-school programming at the National Dance Institute (NDI). Dance Teacher spoke with her about her new position, her plans for the academy and leading in the time of COVID-19.

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Complexions Contemporary Ballet's Tatiana Melendez Proves There's No One Way to Have a Ballet Career

This is Pointe's Fall 2020 cover story. Click here to purchase this issue.

Talk to anyone about rising contemporary ballerina Tatiana Melendez, and one word is bound to come up repeatedly: "Fierce." And fair enough, that's a perfectly apt way to describe the 20-year-old's stage presence, her technical prowess and her determination to succeed. But don't make the mistake of assuming that fierceness is Melendez's only (or even her most noteworthy) quality. At the core of her dancing is a beautiful versatility. She's just as much at ease when etching pure classical lines as she is when boldly throwing herself off-balance.

"Selfish choreographer that I am, I want Tatiana to stay with Complexions for all time," says her boss Dwight Rhoden, Complexions Contemporary Ballet's co-artistic director and resident choreographer. "She has a theatricality about her: When the music comes on, she gets swept away." Not too shabby for someone who thought just a few years ago that maybe ballet wasn't for her.

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