Though I have loved ballet as long as I have been able to walk, my childhood notions of dancing on a stage were dreamlike, Degas-esque, just beyond my ability to express in words, and always intangible enough to feel magically unreal. I knew, somehow, that they were connected with London and Covent Garden (having visited with my family as a child, although never to the ballet) although I could never pin these ideals to anywhere specific therein. Whilst friends, aged 10 or 11, dreamed of being talent scouted by a model agency (a la Kate Moss), I hoped against all logical hope that I would be approached and asked to join the Royal Ballet school. To this end, I always made sure I carried myself balletically in and around Covent Garden, just in case the impossible happened. Of course, it never did, but my connections between Covent Garden and ballet have remained as strong as ever.
The Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, LondonI know now what I should probably always have known: that for me ballet is the Royal Opera House. Everything about the place is magical and everything that ballet is in my mind. It is beautiful, elegant and timeless. Ballet = The Royal Opera House and The Royal Opera House = Ballet.
When I moved to London to work in commerce after university, I worked only a 10 minute walk from Covent Garden. This, for me, was both bliss and torture: I would often wander through the lobby of the ROH wistfully dreaming of a life in the arts, whilst knowing I would have to return to my soul-destroying office job at the end of my hour out. Strangely enough, I never once visited the ballet whilst I worked and lived there: that discovery came much later (I suspect the actual presence of ballet would have been more torturous than I could have coped with at the time.)
|The stunning, vaulted glass, Floral hall|
Now I live an hour and a half from London, but attend as many performances at the ROH as possible. We have discovered the secret of the £6 upper-slip ticket - often with a restricted view, but still enabling us to enjoy world class ballet on a shoestring, and the atmosphere is no less electric the further up the auditorium you go. Indeed, it is worth the price of the ticket alone to hear the sublime orchestra as they accompany the Royal Ballet.
|The elegant interior - given any budget, this would be my dream wedding reception destination|
The inside of the building is, if possible, more enchanting than I thought possible as a child. From the lush red velvets of the entrance lobby, to the breathtaking floral hall and the unbelievably vast auditorium, magic seems to permeate every brick and seep from every seat in the house.
|The ornate and vast auditorium.|
I still hold Covent Garden and this 'grande-dame' of a theatre in the highest of regards, and although I have lost the childish notion of becoming 'discovered' as a ballet dancer wandering the streets below the theatre (ok, so maybe I hope, just a little, every now and then), I am still filled with awe and wonder at this amazing place and all that happens within. The ROH is the place where dreams are born, live and, eventually, die after a life lived to the full. It is a place I long to be a part of in any small way possible - and one where just such an opportunity may have just arisen...