If the number of ballet schools in Brisbane is anything to go by, this is a city that loves to dance! Whether they attend a formal dance class or simply love to spin around the lounge room in a tutu, many children find the experience of attending a professional ballet performance nothing short of magical.
Traditional ballets on stage can be rather long, with complex storylines making it difficult for youngsters to fully appreciate the event. Before you rush to the box office, consider our five top tips for taking your babies to the ballet.
1. Choose the right ballet for your child
Ballet performances vary greatly in length, style and subject matter. Traditional ballets – like the famous Swan Lake – can be a few hours long, including quiet, drawn-out scenes and adult themes. The Australian Ballet suggests that children should be over 6 years old to attend a full-length performance; but, as every child is individual, planning ahead is the key.
Use the theatre’s website to investigate the length of a performance, whether there are any intervals, and whether there are any scenes that might frighten younger ballet fans. If you are concerned your little one may not last the distance of a full length production, keep an eye out (especially on school holidays) for a family-friendly alternative.
Some theatre companies stage shorter performances based on popular fairy tales or using pop music to demonstrate the art form in a way that’s more accessible for youngsters, such as the Australian Ballet’s Storytime Ballet series.
2. Understanding the story
Once you’ve decided which Brisbane ballet performance you will attend, you may like to prepare your children with some background information. If the ballet is based on a popular story (like Sleeping Beauty, for example), make sure your little ballerinas are familiar with the plot before you go.
Watching a ballet can be confusing for some children if they’re not used to experiencing a story told through dance, so knowing the storyline in advance can really help comprehension. You may also like to prepare your youngsters for the style of ballet they are going to see. Some contemporary ballets, for example, don’t make use of the traditional ballerina costumes your little ones may be longing to see.
3. Timing is everything
Most Brisbane ballet performances will be shown at a range of times and dates. Busy family life may limit your choice of when you can attend a show, but, where possible, consider what time of day is going to allow your child the best chance of enjoying the experience. It may seem like a nice idea to dress up for a night out, but if your little one is already yawning before the curtains go up they’re unlikely to be smiling at the finale.
4. Teach your child what’s expected at the ballet
Children need to understand how to behave at the theatre and how to best appreciate their Brisbane ballet excursion. In the days leading up to the performance, consider doing a little performing of your own by pretending you’re at the ballet! Through the safety of imaginary play, it’s possible to remind little ones of the importance of whispering, concentrating, and staying in their seats. For older children, you can just talk to them about what other theatre-goers may expect of them at the ballet.
5. During the performance
Children love to interact with a performance and there’s a good chance your little one will want to ask questions or point out their favourite costumes, especially if it’s their first time at a Brisbane ballet. Other patrons may accommodate a few whispered queries, but if your mini ballerina becomes fidgety or talkative, it is considerate to take them outside for a break and return when they’re ready to concentrate.
Keep an eye on the time and make the most of intervals for stretching and grabbing a drink or snack. You may even consider bringing along a book or other quiet activity for your child to enjoy in their seat if they lose interest in the ballet. This might work especially well if you have a book of the same storyline as the performance.
A trip to the ballet in Brisbane can be magical for parents and children alike, but remember that attending a traditional ballet can require your child to sit still and quiet for a very long time! Use these five top tips to prepare your little ballerinas for their trip to a Brisbane ballet and you’re sure to have a memorable and enjoyable experience.
FEATURE IMAGE CREDIT: Australian Ballet’s Storytime Ballet: The Sleeping Beauty