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Thursday, 19 April, 2001, 12:57 GMT 13:57 UK
Romanian dancer's fairy-tale rise
Alina Cojocaru
Alina took a demotion to join the Royal Ballet
A teenage Romanian dancer has become one of the Royal Ballet's youngest principal dancers at the age of 19.

Alina Cojocaru was promoted to principal after her performance in the company's production of Giselle at the Royal Opera House.

The Bucharest-born ballerina was given the news after taking her curtain call, surrounded by her colleagues.

It is rare honour for a dancer to be promoted on stage but Royal Ballet director Sir Anthony Dowell, watching the performance, made a snap decision to reward her immediately.

Her promotion makes her just one of 11 principals at the Convent Garden-based company.

Alina Cojocaru
Alina stepped into the Nutcracker at the last minute
Cojocara trained in Kiev for seven years before joining The Royal Ballet School on a scholarship in 1998.

After six months' training she returned to perform with the Kiev Ballet for a year, taking roles in Cinderella, Swan Lake and Don Quixote as a principal.

She joined The Royal Ballet in 1999, content with taking her place in the corps de ballet.

But her talent shone through and she was soon promoted to soloist.

Cojocara's big break came when she appeared in the lead in Frederick Ashton's Symphonic Variations, after the original dancer was forced out by injury.

Her performance prompted critics to compare her with the great Margot Fonteyn.

Another injury saw Cojocara step up to take the lead in the Nutcracker, which was televised on the BBC.

See also:

12 Dec 00 | Entertainment
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08 Mar 01 | Entertainment
Ballet world pays tribute to Madam
08 Mar 01 | Entertainment
Royal Ballet founder dies
08 Jan 01 | Entertainment
Ballet star pregnant
16 Jan 01 | Entertainment
Royal Ballet seeks Billy Elliots
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