Alina Cojocaru: A Freelance Ballerina, Forging Her Own Path

Alina Cojocaru: A Freelance Ballerina, Forging Her Own Path

Ballerinas like Sylvie Guillem, Diana Vishneva and Natalia Osipova have also pursued independent paths but turned mainly to contemporary work. Was commissioning “La Strada” about finding a vehicle for yourself that was firmly balletic?

I truly believe in classical ballet, and that was part of it. Dancers today are phenomenal, even better than when I began, and apart from myself, I wanted to create opportunities. The experience of being a freelance dancer during the pandemic, and not being protected by a company, made me realize I would like to do something for other freelancers.

Also, I felt when we came out of the pandemic, ballet companies were very cautious about what they could do; there was a lot of new contemporary work around, but not new story ballets so much. As the director of a company, you are restricted in your choices. If you do your own thing, there is a little more space for choice, it’s easier to construct a creative environment that is more exploratory.

Did you leave English National Ballet because you felt constricted within a company?

Let’s just say life showed me another door at that point. That year, 2020, was a big change in my life. I was pregnant with my second daughter, Ella, and I had to deal with other people’s decisions and choose another path. I knew I would continue to dance, although I didn’t know it would take so long to get back after a second baby, or that there would be a pandemic.

When you have these transitions in life, you think, What do I want? What do I like? And the biggest question: What can I give to this art form? I have danced in many companies. I have seen what works, what doesn’t, the director’s point of view, the dancers’ points of view. I felt I could use what I had learned.

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