The Bridge of Aspiration

Floral Street might at first look like an ordinary London street, with older brick buildings on one side and a newer stone building on the other, until you look up and notice that two of the buildings are joined by an unusual construction that stretches across the street like a concertina or an accordion.

A golden plaque on one of the buildings reveals that this is “The Bridge of Aspiration”, joining the Royal Opera House to the Royal Ballet School. So apparently it is intended for aspiring ballet dancers to walk (or dance) from their school on the right to the opera house on the left.

Apparently there is a shortage of dressing rooms in the opera house, so the dancers have to change into their costumes over in the school.

The Bridge of Aspiration

Here’s a closer look at the Bridge of Aspiration, which according to the Ballet School’s website “provides the dancers of the Royal Ballet School with a direct link to the Grade I listed Royal Opera House” and is also “a striking architectural landmark in its own right.”

According to the Speirs and Major website, the bridge “is constructed of 23 aluminium frames which twist in a series of 3.91 degree steps, rotating through 90 degrees from end to end to create a concertina effect.” Of course I had no reason to doubt this, but just to make sure I counted the frames (there really are 23, though the last one on the left is a bit difficult to make out) and multiplied 23 times 3.91, which came out to 89.93 degrees — certainly close enough for practical purposes.

The inside of the bridge is apparently never open to the public, but if you want to see the inside there is a beautiful photo on the website of Wilkinson Eyre Architects, complete with a lovely ballerina on tiptoes. (Scroll down on the same page to see some nighttime photos, without the ballerina.)

Stage door of the Royal Opera

Across the street from the Royal Ballet School (or “opposite”, as the British would say) is the stage door of the Royal Opera House.

The Bridge of Aspiration

From this view you can see clearly that the left side of the bridge is lower than the right. Since the left side is the opera house and the right side is the Ballet School, it is evident that the aspiring ballet dancers have to walk (or dance) downhill to get to the opera house. I don’t know if this was intended as some sort of symbolism, but I like to think it was.

Address: Royal Ballet School, 46 Floral Street, Covent Garden, London, WC2E 9DA

My photos in this post are from 2015. I revised the text in 2018.

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