An etiquette guide to ballet for newbies

1.- Don’t worry about what to wear. There are people in black tie but dress as if you were going to the theatre and don’t fret.

2.- The audience listens to the overture in silence. If someone does something on stage that makes your heart stop, then they are likely to be applauded. Russian dancers, in particular, expect to be applauded a lot.

3.- Remember that ballet lovers like getting their Italian gender endings correct. So: “brava!” for a woman, “bravo!” for man and “bravi!” for everyone. On the other hand, you can just whistle, shout or stay entirely silent depending on your mood.

4.- Listen out for boos. Unlike in straight theatre, ballet audiences are unafraid of expressing their views. Often this is aimed at a particular performer, the conductor or the director.

5.- Don’t feel anxious about the price of food and drink in the bars. It is quite all right to go to the ballet having eaten in advance and then drink the free tap water. Equally though programmes are both expensive and full of helpful information, free cast sheets are usually provided.



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