Former dancer from Royal Winnipeg Ballet recalls performing for Queen Elizabeth

A day after the death of the queen, a former dancer for the Royal Winnipeg Ballet spoke of meeting Queen Elizabeth II after a performance 70 years ago.

Jean Orr–who was Jean Stoneham at the time–says she joined the company in September of 1951, and danced for the monarch a month later.

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“We were all standing in the wings looking at this beautiful woman arriving with her gorgeous tiara and and white ermine coat, and it was just such a joy,” Orr said.

Orr says she could see the queen in the audience during the performance.

“I just looked out and truly, as you can imagine, that tiara that she wore many times was just glistening in the in the lights of the theater. And there she was in this beautiful yellow gown, just spectacular.”

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After the show, Orr and the others were told the queen wanted to thank them.

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“I thought she was she was just a beautiful, beautiful figure in that gorgeous yellow dress and that tiara– she’d taken off the white fur coat. And and she was lovely. She took time to shake the hand of every one of the dancers in ballet premiere.”

Orr says the recent TV coverage on the queen’s passing has brought back those memories and the incredible moment they shared.

“It’s just the sheer joy of being able to meet her personally and for her to take the time to come (to speak with us),” she said.

“We felt so proud and because we personally felt that because we had been allowed to perform for her, she had graciously consented to Winnipeg having the word ‘royal.’ Can you imagine how important that was?”

Orr says the queen watching the performance was a great honour and privilege.

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