There are many different types of performances from theater to a rock concert, from opera to ballet. Each genre comes with many different questions and many behaviors that are acceptable or frowned upon. Going to any kind of performance event is meant to be entertaining and enjoyable for everyone in attendance. Here are a few things you can do when attending a ballet to make sure you and others have a good time. 

Learn the Story
Unlike theater, ballet does not use words to tell a story. Instead the dancers on stage use movement to express what they are thinking, feeling or saying. There’s nothing worse than sitting in the dark for an extended period of time wondering just what is going on. Learning the story ahead of time can help you understand what the dancers are trying to say with their movement. Most ballets use what is called Pantomime to tell the story. Ballet Pantomime is usually the same in various ballets and are used to tell whether or not some is royalty, making a promise or in love. Even with the help of pantomime, the gestures often pass quickly and it is easy to become lost if you don’t know what’s going on. Do a little research before attending the ballet or arrive early enough to read the Synopsis, or story line, in your program. 

Arrive Early
You will want to arrive early at the theater for many reasons. Any time you go to the theater you can expect many people to be there. The more people there are the longer it will take to find parking and your seat. If you are having trouble finding your seat there will be many ushers who can help guide you. You may also want a little extra time to become familiar with the theater, to find the bathrooms, a water fountain and know where some of the emergency exits are located. The performance begins at certain time, but the performance experience begins long before the show. Performing companies want their audiences to have a great time when they come to the show.  Companies usually go to great lengths to set up extra things to enjoy at a performance like concessions, merchandise, photo booths or even special opportunities to meet performers before the show. In any case, the show can’t begin until their audience is in their seats so it is respectful to the performers and other theater goers to arrive in plenty of time to find your seat and be ready for the performance.

“Make Some Noise!” and “Shhhhh!”
This can be a confusing and sensitive topic. When is it okay to clap? Is it okay to cheer? Can you talk to a neighbor or an usher if you have questions? The joy of live performance is that you get to see real people on stage doing some amazing things! Some of those things require intense concentration while some can be done easily. It is important to realize that performers are very sensitive to the audience – they can hear you, feel your energy and in some cases even see you. But every performer wants the audience to enjoy the show and they respond to the audience. If you let a performer know they are appreciated with applause, they will most certainly perform with more energy for you! Here are a few guidelines on when to clap, cheer, or remain silent.

Make Some Noise! when

  • A performer or group finishes a dance
  • You see something that impresses you
  • You think something is funny
  • Someone accomplishes something that looked difficult
  • When a main character enters the stage for the first time
  • At the end of the show when the performers are taking their bows

Shhhh! moments

  • If the music is quiet usually the audience should be quiet
    No talking once the performance begins – questions can usually be answered at intermission or after the show.
    If you need to exit the theater during the performance for any reason you may do so quietly. Try to leave at the end of a dance so you don’t disturb other theater goers. Also, know that once a show is in progress you may not be able to go to your seat until an intermission. 

    Photos, Videos, and use of Electronic Devices
    It is proper theater etiquette to turn phones OFF during performances. Because theaters are dark and screens are bright, using a phone during a ballet performance is highly frowned upon. Using your phone during a performance disturbs the people around you and it can even be a distraction to those performing on stage. Taking photos during a show also poses a serious risk to the dancers on stage. A sudden bright flash of light from a camera can temporarily blind the dancers and lead to injury. In addition most of the material that is performed in a ballet is under copyright and should not be filmed with out the proper licensing. Because music is such an important part of the ballet performance, if a phone suddenly rings or an alarm goes off, it can seriously ruin the musical experience of those around you. 
    However, before the show, during intermission and after the performances people are encouraged to use their phones to take pictures and share their experience on social media.

What if you don’t enjoy yourself?
As it was mentioned earlier, the goal of every performance event is for the audience to have an enjoyable experience. If anything about your experience is less than satisfactory please speak with an usher. They will be able to direct you to someone who can help fix any problem you may be experiencing. 

Enjoy the Show!