In this clip from The Royal Ballet's 2000 production of The Nutcracker, a 19-year-old Alina Cojocaru, now a principal with the English National Ballet, does the near impossible: she makes Clara's adoration for a nutty-looking wooden doll appear genuine. Cojocaru aptly navigates the role's acting challenges: Clara must have both girlish innocence and womanly poise. She's old enough to dance with the adults, but her imagination—with its capacity to fall for dolls and later conjure gargantuan trees and exotic lands—is untamed by age. Cojocaru's winsome smiles and earnest expressions, her commitment to the emotional ups and downs (not to mention her already pristinely-polished technique) make for a convincing Clara.
Cojocaru faithfully leads us through the ballet, and it's a treat to watch her early fame. After all, The Nutcracker is classic inspiration for budding ballerinas, which Cojocaru was herself at 19 years old. Weren't we all like Clara once? Dancing with dolls and dreaming of dewdrops? Happy #ThrowbackThursday!