Flower throws are an expression of affectionate honour for Principal Dancers on their retirement or sometimes their return from long recuperation from injury. With the permission of House management (and due warning to long-suffering stage management), money collected informally from ballet-goers, together with a donation from the Ballet Association, is used to buy flowers in bulk.
At the final curtain calls, flowers shower the dancer from the boxes adjacent to the stage, thrown by members of the Ballet Association, the House staff or other volunteers. As the cascade of flowers rains down, the audience applauds and often stands in ovation, creating a wonderful atmosphere and a touching and memorable scene.
Opposite is Miyako Yoshida, on a flower-strewn stage at the final curtain call of her last appearance at the Royal Opera House in April 2010, after dancing Cinderella in Sir Frederick Ashton's ballet. Photo ©Bill Cooper 2010