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Last Updated: Thursday, 1 September 2005, 13:24 GMT 14:24 UK
Ballet star Cope plans retirement
The Royal Ballet's principal dancer Jonathan Cope has announced he is to retire from performing next year.

Cope - who has partnered Sylvie Guillem and Darcy Bussell in recent years - will give his final performance on 23 February in The Firebird.

The father-of-two, who is married to former principal ballerina Maria Almeida, will join the company's artistic staff.

Cope, 42, said he was "fortunate" to have enjoyed such a long career.

Long career

He added: "I feel privileged to have worked in an era that included both Ashton and MacMillan.

"I have many fond memories to take with me especially those of partnering many of the world's finest ballerinas.

"In particular, my long partnership with Sylvie Guillem and the bond we formed on the stage is something I will always cherish.

Cope graduated from the Royal Ballet Schools in 1979 and has spent his three-decade long career with The Royal Ballet dancing all the major principal roles.

His repertory with The Royal Ballet included the leading male role in all the classics, including the Princes in Swan Lake, The Sleeping Beauty and The Nutcracker, and the principal roles in Kenneth MacMillan's Romeo and Juliet.

He will give two final performances in The Firebird with Miyako Yoshida on 6 and 23 February 2006 and has withdrawn from the remainder of his schedule.

Role model

Royal Ballet director Monica Mason said: "Jonathan has made an enormous contribution to The Royal Ballet.

"In his early career, in addition to developing fast as a fine classical dancer, he also developed a particular talent as a partner.

"Throughout his career his dedication, discipline and integrity as an artist has enabled him to maintain a consistently high standard of performance that has made him the perfect role model for aspiring young dancers."

Royal Opera House chief executive Tony Hall said: "Jonathan has been a star of the company for a generation and we are all thrilled that he will remain at Covent Garden."


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