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Men's ballet: When the Godesberg Snowflakes danced for Prince Philip

Men's ballet : When the Godesberg Snowflakes danced for Prince Philip

The death of Prince Philip triggered many emotions in Manfred Budzinski from Bad Godesberg. In 1990, he was a member of the men's ballet troupe “Schneeflöckchen” when they danced for the Duke of Edinburgh. It was a bit of a coincidence.

There are moments that are beautiful just because they cannot be planned and most definitely not be predicted. This more or less describes the encounter when members of the Godesberg men's ballet Schneeflöckchen (Little Snowflakes) met Prince Philip, the recently deceased Prince Consort of Queen Elizabeth II. Following the death of the Duke of Edinburgh, Manfred Budzinski recalled the time when their paths crossed.

The beginning of the story goes back to a Rosenmontag in the “Kelterhaus” in Muffendorf. "We performed there, and the then district chief Norbert Hauser had the mayors of the partner cities with him," Budzinski recounts. In particular, the head of Windsor-Maidenhead was enthusiastic and promised an invitation. "It reached me a little later in my hair salon," says the now 72-year-old, who danced in the troupe since its founding in 1984.

City of Bonn sponsored the flights

On the phone was an employee of the city of Bonn. "We were the present that the capitol of Germany was giving for a charity ball," says the man from Bad Godesberg, describing the initial situation. Ten of the eleven members - Budzinski, Jürgen Thelen, Baldur Höpfner, Kalle Eisel, Dieter Schirmacher-Lamberty, Wilfried Hensel, Werner Kress, Albert Groß, Heinz Tscherney and Volker Borowski - flew to Great Britain with their wives on a Friday shortly afterwards. With them, of course, were the dance trainers Sybille and Gabriela Kreutz from the dance studio of the same name. Only Leo Bauckhage was missing.

The city paid for the flights. They stayed with host families. "It wasn't until we were on the bus to the performance that we learned that the event was under the patronage of Prince Philip," says the former Snowflake, who, like the other members, had only started (men's) ballet dancing when he was 30. "We were then standing in the hallway of an old hotel in Windsor, in costume and all ready, when all of a sudden the prince came through the door with his security guards." He shook hands with everyone and was fascinated by the glued-on long eyelashes.

Prince praises the dancers' good looks

"Finally, he said to us in German, 'You look good,'" Budzinski is still delighted about it 31 years later. He points out that they never performed in a comedic or vulgar manner, but with lace pants under the tutu and no stuffed bosoms. Whether the husband of the Queen, who was not present at the time, enjoyed the performance, including the dance of the four little swans, is not known. But the crowd did, which is why the emcee asked the Godesbergers for an encore at midnight and introduced them all by name. Budzinski was introduced as the "Prince Carnival from Bonn" sounding nearly royal himself. He was part of the Godesberg carnival royalty in 1990, thus the title.

The dinner the next day in Windsor Town Hall made an everlasting impression on him - it was without the royal family, but they were sitting under large paintings: "We were treated like stars.” Back in Germany, there was mail from the twin town: On a card was the coat of arms of Windsor-Maidenhead, next to it the signature of Prince Philip and underneath a photo of the (at least for the Snowflakes) historic handshake.

In 2010 the dance troupe disbanded

In 2000, Budzinski left the dance troupe, which disbanded ten years later. "We always had a lot of fun, especially on Weiberfastnacht (Ladies night at carnival time), but also at Christmas parties at coal mines in the Ruhr region," says the man who identifies as a "carnival enthusiast through and through". He runs the group "Bad Godesberger Karnevalsgeschichten” (Bad Godesberg Carnival History) on Facebook. The ballet veterans always meet on the Friday before the Godesberger Zoch carnival parade at the Bergischer Hof in Mehlem. Budzinski hopes that this will be possible again next year.

(Orig. text: Sikle Elbern / Translation: Carol Kloeppel)