Ballet Etiquette: How to Look Like a Season Pass Holder

By Bill Lindsey
Bill Lindsey
Bill Lindsey
Bill Lindsey is an award-winning writer based in South Florida. He covers real estate, automobiles, timepieces, boats, and travel topics.
October 29, 2021 Updated: October 29, 2021

Attending live performances of ballet is a thrilling experience, but those unfamiliar with it may find it daunting. Accordingly, we reached out to dancers and ballet companies for tips on how to act and how to dress.

Do Dress to Impress

Shorts are for the beach, not the ballet. The performers can see the audience and appreciate when they are wearing their best, even for a weekend matinee. While the nature of the performance will dictate the dress code, with galas requiring formal attire, the quintessential little black dress or a suit are safe choices. For those who like to dress for the event, a gown or dinner jacket is always acceptable.

Don’t Arrive Late

Arriving late may be borderline acceptable for sporting events or live concerts, but it isn’t permitted for the ballet. Insisting on being seated during the performance is disrespectful to those who arrived early (at least 15 minutes before the curtain goes up), negatively affecting their enjoyment of the performance. In worst-case scenarios, it could also create a jarring distraction for the performers.

Don’t Take Photos or Shoot Video

Dancers derive great pleasure from an enthusiastic audience, but this doesn’t include those who take flash photography or use cellphones to capture the performance. In addition to blocking the view of other patrons, these actions can distract the dancers. Stay seated and enjoy the performance; most companies will post photos and videos on their websites for patrons to view and share.

Do Turn Off Your Phone

Several minutes before the curtain goes up, an announcement will be made, asking all patrons to turn their cellphones off for the duration of the performance. The reason is simple: Even when in mute mode, the screen lighting up or the buzzing announcing an incoming call or text is distracting to patrons seated nearby. You can make calls while in the lobby during intermission, but not from your seat.

Do Bring Children

While children may not appreciate the complexity of many traditional ballets, they will be enthralled by others such as “The Nutcracker.” This timeless classic includes a cast of young performers, adding to its appeal to young patrons and inspiring future dancers. Note: The one exception to the rule of staying seated during a performance is to take crying or restless children to the lobby immediately.

Bill Lindsey
Bill Lindsey is an award-winning writer based in South Florida. He covers real estate, automobiles, timepieces, boats, and travel topics.