My father, knowing how much I enjoyed my Ballet classes with the Lena King School of Ballet, in Belfast, booked us 2 very good seats in GOH stalls, for an evening performance of The Royal Ballet’s Sleeping Beauty, in 1960. He had always expressed pride that a dancer from the Pavlova Ballet Company had stayed with his family for the duration of that Company’s own GOH performances in May 1931, so our Royal Ballet outing was going to be a treat for him too.
It was my first visit to GOH, so settling into our comfortable seats in good time, gave me the opportunity to gaze in wonder at the luxurious gold & red GOH decor around me, & absorb the unique, magical theatrical atmosphere, totally unlike anything I had ever experienced before.
A colleague of my father’s, spotting us, came over, & after greeting us both, chatted with him, giving me further opportunities to enjoy my surroundings, & to read the programme. Eagerly, I devoured the contents, which whetted my appetite for the performance to come.
The ballerina Lynn Seymour, was dancing the lead role of Princess Aurora. She was one of the acclaimed ballerinas of her generation, & my set of Ballet Cards collected weekly at that time, featured her as one of the “Lovely Young Dancers of 1960”.
Nearly performance time, & the colleague resumed his seat – or so we thought. But, several minutes later, he re-appeared & ceremoniously presented me with a large presentation box of chocolates, which he had just purchased in the GOH Foyer. Such presentation boxes with a decorative picture covering the whole of the top lid, were very fashionable gifts then. I had often scrutinised them longingly in a shop near school, deciding which pictures I liked best, but never expected to be given one myself. Mine was a deep box pink featuring a black & white dog on the lid, completed by a deep pink satin bow, the whole encased in cellophane.
My sincere thanks duly given, the orchestra played, the heavy red curtains parted, the Ballet began… and I was lost in the romance & magic of the dance, & became for a time, part of that special, ethereal Ballet world…
Afterwards exiting GOH, I felt I was floating on air, whilst holding on tightly to my glamorous chocolate box. This, my first visit to the Grand Opera House, proved an unbeatable experience, despite the many varied performances I still enjoy attending there. Then, I was grateful to the Royal Ballet dancers, my father & his colleague, but as an adult, looking back, having enjoyed my own performing experiences in acting, singing, dance, & front of house events work, I am now very aware of how much essential work was done, by so many unseen & unheralded GOH staff behind the scenes, to ensure the successful performance that night, & to provide the young girl I was then, with such happy, life-long memories. Thank you all!