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Teenage ballerina's spectacular leap
In just 18 months, 19-year-old Romanian ballerina Alina Cojocaru has risen through the ranks of the Royal Ballet to become one of the company's youngest principal ballerinas.

Miss Cojocaru was promoted 'on the spot' by Royal Ballet Director Sir Anthony Dowell immediately following her performance in the role of Giselle on Tuesday night at The Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.

He had made the decision after viewing her performance and announced the news to her on stage, in the company of her colleagues. Royal Ballet Administrative Director Anthony Russell-Roberts told The Daily Telegraph: "She has a God-given talent and an amazing future. On stage promotion is very exceptional but she is so wonderful that it seemed the natural thing to do."

Miss Cojocaru's extraordinary promotion was virtually predicted by the critics following her debut in Giselle last Saturday night. Debra Craine, of The Times, wrote: "This was a performance of such excitement and intensity that it left many in the Covent Garden audience in tears. They had just witnessed a historic first performance by a 19-year-old Romanian dancer who looks set to dominate British dance for years - and they knew it."

Even more poignantly, The Guardian's Judith Mackrell stated: "By the time Alina Cojocaru reached the second act of her debut performance of Giselle on Saturday, you felt that history was watching over your shoulder. You sensed the ranks of great ballerinas who have previously performed the role jostling to make space for her. You felt that flukey thrill of being in exactly the right place at the right time."

Born in Bucharest, Alina Cojucaru trained in Kiev for seven years before joining the Royal Ballet School in 1998. Upon completion of her training, six months later, she returned to Kiev to dance with Kiev Ballet for a year as a principal . She joined the The Royal Ballet Company in November 1999 and at the end of the season was promoted from Artist to First Soloist.

Thu Apr 19 2001 (7:29:32 AM)