Good to Go: Field Guides to the Arts for Parents

A Parents’ Field Guide to Ballet

Everything you need to know so you're good to go to the ballet!

Before the Show

Here are some tips to minimize the fuss and maximize the fun of your ballet-going experience.

Before you leave home...

•  Look online. Check the venue’s Web site for information about the ballet you are seeing—story and/or theme—and about the composer(s) and choreographer(s). 

•  Dress thoughtfully. No formal wear, but do dress nicely (business attire or Sunday best). To ward off air-co chill, bring sweaters or jackets.

•  Arrive early. Thirty minutes is ideal. Latecomers are usually not seated until intermission. If you have time, let your kids explore the venue. Hit the bathroom before taking your seats.

•  Turn off, tune in. Switch off your electronic devices, then make sure your kids have turned off theirs. Warn them not to text-message or take photographs during the performance.  

•  Bone up. Read the program. Go over the story and characters with your kids. Play “I spy” with any set pieces visible on the stage.      

•  Don’t miss this opportunity! Some dance companies offer preshow discussions before selected performances. You and your kids might even be able to attend a dress rehearsal (check the company’s Web site).

During the Show

After the curtain rises, remember...

•  Don’t snore! Or talk, eat, text, or drink. In short, model good behavior for your kids.

•  Do clap! Dancers appreciate applause, so feel free to clap and cheer after a solo dance or particularly impressive move. If the performance includes a live orchestra, also applaud when the conductor takes the stand in the orchestra pit, both at the start of the performance and after intermission.

•  Don’t miss this opportunity! If your kids want to meet the dancers after the show, wait outside the stage door exit and politely request an autograph.

At Home

Deepen your family’s dance-going experience through discussion and at-home activities.

•  IMHO. Urge your kids to share their impressions of the show. Which part did they most enjoy? Were they able to follow the story? If they saw a full-length ballet like The Nutcracker, discuss how the various characters were represented in dance. How did the movements and the music work together?

•  Compare and contrast. Most famous ballets have been filmed by multiple dance companies. Watch a DVD of the ballet you saw performed by a different company. How did the two performances compare?  

•  Make memories. Create a ballet scrapbook or journal. Paste in ticket stubs, programs, photographs, autographs, etc. Include favorite moments and other impressions.



Amy Dunkleberger
Original Writer

Editors & Producers

Doug Cooney

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