Flower Power

My old ballet studio has a cute tradition: A few of the school's youngest students are asked to present flowers to the principal dancers at the end of each performance. And being chosen as a flower girl is just this impossible honor. I'm talking squealing, jumping-up-and-down excitement—8-year-old me still hasn't gotten over it.

Why? Well, first, there's the amazing feeling of getting to have a real interaction with one of the "big girls" you idolize. But there's also something special about the ritual itself: the gorgeous bouquets of lilies and roses, the way the dancers somehow manage to negotiate the bulky packages in such a graceful way. And oh my gosh, to be the leading ballerina, to pull out the one rose and kiss it and present it to your partner! It's such a beautiful, elegant little pageant, so much fun to be a part of.

Flowers and ballet: Would opening night be opening night if the ballerina didn't receive a huge bouquet? It's almost hard to imagine. But how did that tradition get started? And who's sending all these flowers, anyway?

The Guardian just published a kind of amazing piece dissecting the history—and logistics—of flower-giving at the ballet. Since it's a British paper, the focus is on The Royal Ballet, where flower showers are apparently even more common than they are at U.S. ballet companies. (Did you know that The Royal has a "flower fund," to cover emergency bouquets, in case a principal dancer doesn't have flowers sent to her? That is my new favorite thing.)

But they also talk about the people on other side of the flower tradition: the florists, who have all kinds of fun customizing bouquets to dancers, or to roles. There are a lot of pink flowers happening at this time of year for the Sugar Plum Fairies, of course—but if the company is dancing Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, they like to add things like flamingo feathers and playing cards to the arrangements. It sounds like the best job ever.

The paper put together a video following the London florists who make many of The Royal's bouquets, Bloomsbury Flowers. Predictably, it's delightful. (Both of the owners used to be dancers!) Take a look—then click here to learn more about the dance world's flower and bowing traditions.

Latest Posts

Photo by Jayme Thornton

How Paloma Garcia-Lee Manifested Her Dream Role, in Steven Spielberg’s "West Side Story"

On a rainy day in November 2018, Paloma Garcia-Lee got a call from her agent that brought her to her knees outside her New York City apartment: She was going to play Graziella in Steven Spielberg's West Side Story.

The call came after a lengthy audition process with Spielberg in the room, and the role, originated by Wilma Curley on Broadway in 1957 and later portrayed by Gina Trikonis in the 1961 film, was her biggest dream. In fact, it's something Garcia-Lee says she manifested from the day plans for the movie were announced in January 2018. "I wrote in my journal: 'I am playing Graziella in Steven Spielberg's West Side Story.'"

Keep Reading SHOW LESS
Photo by @mediabyZ

Am I Less Committed to Dance Because I Have Other Passions? (Spoiler Alert: NO!)

Let's face it—dance is HARD, and in order to achieve your goals, you need to be committed to your training. "Still, there's a fine line between being committed and being consumed." Dancers can, and should, have interests outside of the studio.

Not convinced? We talked with dance psychologist Dr. Lucie Clements and two multifaceted dancers, Kristen Harlow (a musical theater dancer pursuing a career in NYC and Kentucky) and Kallie Takahashi (a dancer in her final year at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts), and got the inside scoop on how having hobbies outside of dance can inform your artistry, expand your range and help prevent burnout.

Keep Reading SHOW LESS
Photo by Jamayla Burse

Catching Up With Christian Burse, Comp Kid Turned Complexions Rising Star

With her nearly limitless facility, well-timed dynamics and incredible control, Christian Burse's future as a dancer was guaranteed to be bright. A student at the renowned Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Dallas, TX, and at Dance Industry Performing Arts Center in Plano, TX, Burse has consistently made waves: She won first runner-up for Teen Outstanding Dancer at New York City Dance Alliance Nationals in 2019, received a grant for summer study at Juilliard from the Texas Young Masters program in 2020, and was named a YoungArts finalist for dance in 2021.

So, it wasn't all that surprising when Burse announced that, at just 17 years old, she would be joining Complexions Contemporary Ballet as an apprentice for the company's 2021–22 season.

Dance Spirit caught up with Burse to hear all about her first season with Complexions ahead of the contemporary ballet company's run at the Joyce Theater in NYC this month.

Keep Reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks

Enter the Cover Model Search