We’ve been fascinated to discover, recently, that when flowers appear at the end of a ballet, they’re subject to some very special, die-hard rules. For example, at London’s Royal Ballet, men don’t typically get flower bouquets unless they’re dressed up as female characters. There was a bit of a flutter recently when, after getting special dispensation from the director, men did, in fact, receive flowers on-stage.
There are rules about who gets which flowers, by whom, and how they are both given and received. It’s a ballet dance in and of itself. Opening night is a sure bet for these traditional gifts and, as we’re entering the holiday season, which attracts more non-ballet fans to see the Nutcracker, we thought it might be interesting to talk about that.
The company itself might supply flowers for opening night or the commencement of a role by a new dancer. At the bigger theatres, fans will bring the flowers so there’ll be a carpet of color every night. Ushers are there to get the flowers and pass them up. Local florists embellish the flowers to match the theme of the story.
Originally, flowers were a kind of compensation for poor payment, dating back to the 1930s. An appreciative audience sent flowers, food and gifts. Fortunately, the dancers eventually started to get their due for all that practice and energy, but the tradition lingered.
Flowers that make the cut are presented on-stage, but others go straight to the dressing room. All are appreciated, but the days of being able to toss your own bouquets have more or less gone. So if you want to send beautiful flowers to a ballerina, be aware that you can’t just deliver them to the theatre. But if you bring them and pass them over, there’s a very good chance they will reach their famous target.