Belfast Telegraph

Fairy tale performance for sick children at Royal Belfast Hospital

By Amanda Ferguson

It's not every day the wards of a children's hospital are transformed into the backdrop of a classic fairy tale.

Stars of English Youth Ballet's The Sleeping Beauty have lifted the spirits of patients at the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children with a dazzling display.

The young people being treated at Ward 2 of the busy hospital got the chance to temporarily forget their problems to marvel at a pas de deux from the ballet company.

EYB is in Belfast this week as it prepares to take to the stage of the Grand Opera House. A team of girls from Northern Ireland will be performing with EYB at the theatre tomorrow and Saturday in shows that are helping to raise cash for much-needed multi-sensory equipment for children with complex needs undergoing treatment at the Belfast hospital.

The children and their families were given an insight into how a dancer approaches their working day and principal dancers, Julianne Rice-Oxley and Richard Read, used a hospital bed for a ballet barre.

There were gasps of awe as Julianne showed how dancers stretch and extend their legs and bodies during a ballet class.

Later in the workshop the dancers put on their costumes and treated the audience to the Bluebird pas de deux from Act III of The Sleeping Beauty.

Tom Woodrow (9), from Ballymoney, was one of the young patients left impressed by the display.

"I really enjoyed the ballet – I have never seen it before. I think they could dance well," he said.

"Julianne was very good on her toes. Richard could nearly touch the ceiling when he jumped."

Molly Taylor (8), from Ahoghill, is a dancer herself.

"It was beautiful dancing. I do Irish dancing but not ballet. The ballerina's tutu was very nice," she said.

Molly's proud mum added: "Molly just loves to dance – she has won important Irish dancing competitions. It was such a lovely treat for her today to see the ballet because she has been in hospital so long.

"I will definitely take her to the dress rehearsal if she is allowed out of hospital by next week."

Jenne McDonald – head of play at the hospital – spoke of the positive impact special treats like EYB's dance performance had on the ill youngsters.

"I think the children watching the dancers were totally absorbed by it all," she said.

"It lifted the atmosphere in the ward. It brought some colour, gorgeous dancing and wonderful music into the hospital, which I think the children will never forget."

For tickets call: 028 9024 1919 or visit: www.goh.co.uk

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