17 Oct World Ballet Day 2019
It seems appropriate to draw attention to this day because of our backgrounds; this year’s World Ballet Day is October 23rd and is a unique event that started in 2014. It is an annual celebration of ballet and includes live streams throughout the day from the Australian Ballet, the Bolshoi Ballet, the Royal Ballet, the National Ballet of Canada and the San Francisco Ballet.
This is something that ‘back in the day’ we could never even have imagined so if you have time during your day, do take a look at the live streaming as it’s a window into the lives of many dancers around the world. There are also many other celebrations held by smaller dance companies and schools so check out venues in your area to see what might be happening.
Life in the day of a ballet company starts with class in the morning followed by rehearsals and then the performance in the evening. That usually starts around 10.30am so you can appreciate that it was an extremely steep learning curve for us bringing our body clocks forward to go to the Flower Market very early in the morning! The cafe at the market made excellent bacon sandwiches so at least that was something to look forward to…
The discipline of being a dancer transcribes very well to life in the ‘outside world’ so it is no surprise that most ex-dancers retrain and excel so well in many different walks of life after their career in dance. That discipline helps us organise the day to day life here in Bloomsbury Flowers which has a strict order of work; each day starts with conditioning which is not Pilates (!) but all about the cutting and preparing of all the fresh flowers and foliage that comes in each day.
Next, some of the team will start work on the orders that have come in, a few of which may have landed in our inbox overnight from California or Australia, and the rest of the team will take over design work for the hotels and other contracts. Quite often, we will have events or photo shoots to work on too and at the end of the week, there may also be weddings to create and install.
Our connection with the Royal Ballet is still strong as we not only deliver the weekly in-house flowers to the public areas of the Royal Opera House, we are the go-to florist for many ballet fans who regularly order presentation bouquets for their favourite ballerina. Flowers are sent to the male dancers too but tradition has it that they may not be presented on stage although we did manage to sway that once but that’s another story…
We also take care of the ‘flower showers’ again another long-standing tradition started by ardent ballet fans when the Flower Market was still in situ at Covent Garden back in the 60s and 70s. The fans would buy up boxes of flowers that were perhaps past their best but would make a spectacular ‘shower’ when thrown on to the stage from either side of the Amphitheatre, the highest seating in the Royal Opera House, at the end of a particularly significant performance, usually that of a dancer whose last performance it is before retiring from the stage. Click here to see Miyako Yoshida, one of Mark’s partners, receiving a flower shower during her last curtain call at the Royal Opera House. The image at the top of the blog features the flowers and flower shower at the end of Dame Darcey Bussell’s retirement performance from the Royal Ballet in July 2007.
So, as we approach our 25th Anniversary on December 2nd this year, it’s lovely to look back on how lucky we are to have had two successful and creative careers as dancers and as florists.
Happy World Ballet Day!
PS – see below for a look back to Stephen & Mark on stage in the 5 Tangos, choreography by Hans Van Manen. Picture credit Leslie E Spatt