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As Generous as She Is Talented
International Ballet Star ALINA COJOCARU’s Gift
To the Struggling Dancers in her Homeland
An Unusual Endorsement Deal with Gaynor Minden,
Alina Cojocaru, international ballet star and Principal Dancer at England’s Royal Ballet leveraged her endorsement deal with Gaynor Minden, Inc., American maker of elite pointe shoes and studio clothing, into a generous gift to fellow dancers in her native Romania.
Cojocaru, who has worn Gaynor Minden pointe shoes for several years and who was hailed by The New York Observer as “ravishing…the best thing going today,” has agreed to appear in the Gaynor Minden’s advertisements. Instead of accepting any fee, however, she has requested that Gaynor Minden supply pointe shoes to the dancers of the Romania’s national ballet company, Opera Nationala din Bucuresti.
When Gaynor Minden created Gaynor Minden Europe, Ltd. its London-based subsidiary in 2003, it sought European stars to add to its roster of customer/spokeswomen. Cojocaru joins fellow Royal Ballet Principal Zenaida Yanowsky, and other major European dancers on the list.
“We were thrilled when Alina said yes,” said Eliza Minden, President of Gaynor Minden, “she is such an exquisite dancer and she is known to American as well as European audiences. But I was completely blown away by her generosity.”
In making her request Cojocaru explained that she had just returned from Romania where life for the dancers, she said “is very hard.” Severe political and economic problems make buying pointe shoes and other necessities extremely difficult and sometimes impossible. The plight of her friends and colleagues moved Cojocaru to offer what would have been her entire compensation so that the Romanian dancers could get the shoes they needed.
“At first I thought it would be a logistical challenge, but as it turned out, the whole Romanian company was already wearing Gaynor Minden, so they knew their sizes, they just hadn’t been able to order the new shoes they needed. We had not been aware of the extent of Gaynor Minden’s popularity there, or of the severity of their financial situation,“ said Minden, “Gaynor Minden is delighted to be part of this effort.”
A native of Bucharest, Romania, Cojocaru trained in Kiev for several years before winning a prestigious Prix de Lausanne scholarship to London’s Royal Ballet School in 1998. She then returned to the Ukraine as a Principal Dancer at the Kiev Ballet where she danced for one year before joining the England’s premiere troupe, the Royal Ballet. Cojocaru rocketed through the ranks to become a Principal at the Royal in 2001.
Her roles include the leading parts in Swan Lake, Giselle, Romeo and Juliet, La Bayadère, the Ashton repertory and many other works. Her petite size and delicate, waif-life quality belie the steely strength and formidable technique her repertoire requires. “The most difficult steps unfolded with preternatural ease,” wrote Robert Gottlieb in The New York Observer, “Everything about her pleases; she’s one of those dancers…whose claim is so great that audiences not only admire them but love them.”
Gaynor Minden, Inc. has been profiled in The New Yorker, The Wall Street Journal, on NPR, CBS, and The Discovery Channel among many others for its innovative and sometimes controversial high-tech pointe shoe. Gaynor Minden is worn by numerous stars at American Ballet Theatre including its dazzling Principal, Gillian Murphy.
Gaynor Minden is the first pointe shoe to utilize the advanced materials that revolutionized athletic shoes. Whereas traditional pointe shoes are constructed from cardboard, paper, paste, leather and/or burlap, and rely on those materials to support the dancer, Gaynor Minden uses elastomerics for the supportive elements. Additionally Gaynor Mindens contain cellular urethane impact-absorbing foams, just like what are found in the finest running shoes. Although indistinguishable to the audience the dancers know the difference: Gaynor Mindens last about five times longer than traditional shoes and are more comfortable. A welcome gift indeed for the hardworking dancers of Romania.