Alina’s Gala | Alina Cojocaru’s signed pointe shoes auctioned for her charity, Hospices of Hope
Only Alina Cojocaru could open her Gala with the Rose Adage from The Sleeping Beauty. The music alone sends shivers of fear into the most professional of professional ballet dancers : not Cojocaru. Her supreme technicality aided by wonderfully smooth partnering from her suitors – Steven McRae, Johan Kobborg, Xander Parish and Matthew Golding – showcased her joy at dancing on the stage, like a butterfly dancing along the edges of winter.
Last night, Royal Ballet Principal dancer Alina Cojocaru presented a Gala in aid of Hospices of Hope, a charity currently building an adult hospice in Cojocaru’s home town of Bucharest. The construction work is underway but the charity needs more money to put a roof on the building and start accepting patients.
In addition to the Gala evening, Cojocaru has signed a pair of her pointe shoes and asked her fellow dancers to do the same. The photographs you see here are her actual shoes, and Ballet News is auctioning them in aid of Hospices of Hope.
Bid for Alina’s pointe shoes for two days only
The way the auction works is that you send in your sealed bid by email, and Alina’s signed pointe shoes will go to the highest bidder above the reserve price which has been set by the charity.
All you need to do is contact me with your best bid, your name and your phone number. The charity will then contact the winning bidder direct, after the closing date which is Wednesday 15th May 10pm GMT.
The Gala evening was a special treat filled with unusual pieces and timed just right with an early start and finish. Following on from The Rose Adage, The Royal Ballet’s Frankie Hayward and James Hay danced an excerpt from the Flower Festival in Genzano, which was like watching slanting sunbeams dancing through fluffy clouds spreading across the sky like a showgirl on a chaise long. 101 is a humorous but hard piece danced to perfection by the Mariinsky Ballet’s Xander Parish, and this was followed by the quite incredible Charlie Siem and Carmen’s Fantaisie Brillante. Siem literally drips beauty from his violin and it’s spell-binding to watch.
Three plucky students from the Floria Capsali Choreography High School danced an excerpt from Johan Kobborg’s Salute – Andreea Barzescu, Maria Mamara and Cosmin Marinescu. It’s a lovely piece filled with fun and Marinescu in particular held his nerve and gently but persistently showed the girls who’s boss; or at least, that’s what they let him think!
It’s true that some Gala pieces are chosen because they are either currently in the rep or were recently so, which makes it easier on the dancers when it comes to squeezing in rehearsal time. Christopher Wheeldon’s Cinderella is one such piece, danced here by Dutch National Ballet’s Matthew Golding and Anna Tsygankova. But it’s fitting that it’s here : Alina and Johan have weaved their magic on stage dancing this pas de deux many times together and though Wheeldon’s steps may be different, the music remains the same, and my favourite of all time. The atmosphere builds inexorably towards a glorious finale. Golding is a fine partner and this is a difficult pas de deux, with Tsygankova barely touching the stage. I can only imagine how well he’d fit in at The Royal Ballet, but it would be mischievous to say …..
English National Ballet’s elegant Principals Vadim Muntagirov and Erina Takahashi danced the pas de deux and coda from Sleeping Beauty, drawing out the music with their languor and elegant phrasing. The Paris Opera Ballet’s Etoile Isabelle Ciaravola took on the mighty Dying Swan solo and this was followed by Tim Rushton’s Love Songs; a slight departure from the classical ballet we’d seen so far but mesmerizing in its intensity just the same. Danced by Ana Sendas (in vertiginous heels) and Stefanos Bizas the pair have a powerful intensity that is compelling.
What can you say about Johan Kobborg’s Les Lutins ? Ay Carumba! It’s genius, pure and simple. I’d have closed the show with it (and probably opened with it too). The welcome return of Charlie Siem and his inestimable fabulousness, this time with pianist Caroline Jaya-Ratnam brings about a challenge for the dancers; a spot of combat initially between Steven McRae and Siem – can he keep up with the music (answer : of course) and then with Marcelino Sambe (fresh from The Royal Ballet School) who tries to out-pace the paciest dancer we have. Good try though! A dressed down Cojocaru, with her slightly rascally spirit, returns and falls for them both – until Siem catches her eye and that’s it. Game over.
The Don Quixote grand pas de deux is perhaps standard gala fare, but Cojocaru invited The Royal Ballet’s Akane Takada and Stanislavsky Music Theatre/Novosibirsk State Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre’s quixotic Sergei Polunin to liven things up a bit, and the audience responded.
Presented by Eve Best and Lauren Cuthbertson, this was a fearless Gala of fearsome talent, as glossy as ganache. Hospices of Hope clearly means a great deal to humble Cojocaru, who was gently nudged forward by Polunin and Muntagirov to make her short but utterly heartfelt thank you speech.
If you’d like to help Hospices of Hope then please bid for these rare signed pointe shoes and let’s get the roof on that building. For the patients, it can’t come soon enough.