Enjoying the Ballet

How to Plan for Attending a Ballet Performance

Audience applauding ballerina on stage in theater
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Attending the ballet is a truly magical event. The following tips will help you get the most out of a ballet performance.

Choose the Right Ballet

So many ballets, so little time. If you are attending the ballet for the first time, choose a popular production, like "A Midsummer Night's Dream" or "Copellia." If your local ballet company is producing a ballet, it is probably one of the classical ballets. The most entertaining classical ballets are the ones that tell stories, usually adapted from popular fairy tales. There are a few ballets that are especially appropriate for children, such as "The Nutcracker" or "Cinderella."

Buy Tickets

Check your local paper or the Arts page on your community's website for information about upcoming ballet performances. With so many ballet companies alive today, most people should be able to find a nearby ballet theater. If you live in a big city, you are probably lucky enough to have quite a choice of performances. Remember that planning to attend a ballet is part of the fun—pick the date of a special occasion, such as a birthday or anniversary, and make it even more special with tickets to the ballet.

Research the Music and Story

Ballet performers use body movements, not words, to tell stories. Because speaking is not involved, it may be difficult to follow the storyline of the ballet. If you know which ballet you are planning to see, take some time to learn all about it. Plot summaries and critical reviews can be found on the Internet. You may want to go a step further and find a DVD or video stream of a live performance of the ballet.

A great way to familiarize yourself with a ballet is to listen to the music. Music of the classical ballets is usually easy to find on CD or online. Listen to the music in the car or around the house, noting any abrupt changes in tempo. The more familiar you are with the music, the more you will appreciate and enjoy it when you hear it live.

Read About the Dancers

A ballet company employs several dancers, many of which you will see at the ballet. It's fun to learn a little about them before you actually see them. Research the leading dancers of the company via the internet. You may uncover personal details about them that you can relate to, as ballet dancers are real people too. Study pictures of the main dancers so you can try to identify them on stage.

Attire and Attending

Although there is no specific dress code for ballet performances, most people try to dress up out of respect for the ballet. Some people prefer to dress in business attire while others prefer trendy, but casual, clothing. Formal attire is not generally worn. If you are attending the opening night performance, however, the atmosphere will be a little more formal.

Most theaters open about 30 minutes before a performance. Be sure to allow yourself plenty of time for parking, ticket pick-up, and finding your seat. Keep in mind that some theaters have very strict guidelines for late seating. If you arrive after the performance begins, you may be asked to wait until intermission to be seated.

At the Ballet

As you wait for the curtain to open, flip through the program. You will be able to read a short plot summary of the ballet and biographies of the principal dancers. The program will also provide interesting facts about the ballet company and its past performances.

Knowing proper etiquette for the ballet will benefit you and those around you. Never bring small children to a live performance, unless they are capable of sitting still for at least two hours. Usually, children are at least seven years old before they truly enjoy the ballet. Remember to turn off your cell phone. There is nothing like the ringing of a cell phone to spoil a moving moment. Do not eat or drink during the performance, as there will be time for that during intermission. Also, remember to speak quietly during the show, and applaud only when appropriate.

Remembering the Experience

Whether it's your first time or fiftieth, attending the ballet is always a moving experience. After the performance, you may feel like meeting a few of the dancers, to add to your memory of the event. Dancers usually exit through the stage door, so wait there with your program in one hand and a pen in the other for autographs. If you ask them nicely, the dancers will probably allow for a few photo opportunities. Some people keep ballet scrapbooks and journals, documenting their ballet experiences.