Tourism Ireland

Ballet For Beginners

by Brendan Byrne

Feb 10, 2017

© Goodlux | Dreamstime

Tips / Other

Like the opera, the ballet provides an excellent opportunity to do something a little different on your next vacation. James Bond movies and television shows give you the impression that in order to enjoy the ballet or opera you need to travel with a formal gown or tuxedo and, well, this quite simply is not the case. From Buenos Aires to Vienna and points between, the majesty of theaters can often be toured during the day, but in order to truly appreciate their accomplishments you should really treat yourself to a performance.


Unless you’re attending the Glyndebourne or a handful of other venues, there is no dress code and you shouldn’t hesitate to go to the ballet in a pair of jeans if that’s all you have available; you won’t be alone. That said, sometimes it’s fun to rent outfits for a special night out especially if there is a dress code. Ask when you buy your tickets.


The ballet tends to give people the impression you’re meant to sit hours in reverential silence, but this simply isn’t the case. If someone does something truly show stopping on stage, feel free to applaud. Russian dancers, in particular, actually expect applause during the more difficult parts of their routines when executed flawlessly.


At the end of the performance if you’re looking to join in the congratulatory shouting, get your genders correct as ballet-goers to adhere to this rule pretty solidly. So, brava! for a woman, bravo! for man and bravi! for everyone. But you can also clap, shout or whistle as you would at a sporting event. Also, feel free to boo if you were unhappy with a dancer, the director or the conductor. While not common in most parts of the world, Italians are notorious for their contempt and, well, when in Rome.


Eat and drink beforehand, both the ballet and the opera can run a little long and concession prices are notoriously expensive.



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