The Australian Ballet

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Going to the Ballet

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Artists of The Australian Ballet, Jewels (Balanchine), 2023
Photo Kate Longley

A first timers guide to going to the ballet.

There's no right way to go to the ballet, but below are some tips to enhance your experience.

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Winnie Chan and Ben Hooper at opening night of Faster in Melbourne, 2017
Photo Wendell Teodoro

Dress up

While you don't have to dust off your diamonds, and it's perfectly acceptable to arrive in jeans or straight from the office, enhance the ballet experience and match the onstage glamour with a 'fit worthy of Instagram. From sparkles, sequins, gowns and tails, express your unique personality with your fanciest get-up.

Tip: Make sure your knock-out ensemble is the comfy kind – you don’t want a niggling tight seam distracting you from that perfect pas de deux.

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Lana Jones
Photo Lynette Wills


You would never clap in the middle of a symphony or an aria, but at the ballet, you can let yourself go! When the dancers are performing spectacular moves (spins, leaps or lifts), it’s perfectly acceptable to encourage them to greater heights with storms of applause.

Tip: When the dancers take their curtain calls, anything goes – show your appreciation with applause, whoops or a standing ovation.

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Artists of The Australian Ballet, Christopher Wheeldon's Alice in Wonderland©, 2019
Photo Jeff Busby

Keep an eye on the time

The time of your performance is written on your ticket, and they do vary, so it’s worth checking. If you miss the beginning of the ballet, you’ll have to watch it on a monitor until there’s a suitable break in the performance, which can often be at the first interval! This is to ensure the spell in the auditorium is not broken by a constant stream of latecomers.

Tip: Leave yourself a healthy buffer zone so that traffic, weather or parking delays don’t catch you out.

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Adam Bull, Don Quixote (Nureyev), 2023
Photo Rainee Lantry

A little research goes a long way

Show off your ballet knowledge at interval by reading up on the production prior to the performance. You can access the synopsis and cast listing on our website before the show and find extra information in the program on the night!

Tip: The Australian Ballet’s blog is a good place to find information on ballets and personalities.


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Save time and pre-order your interval drinks

The bars can be crowded during intervals, so consider pre-ordering your interval drinks. They'll be waiting for you when you come out of the auditorium, so you can get to comparing notes with your ballet companions.

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Photo Kate Longley

Feel the music

Tchaikovsky, Stravinsky, Prokofiev, Glass – some of the world’s greatest composers have written specifically for ballet, and choreographers are inspired by music ranging from Webern to The White Stripes. While you’re enjoying the spectacle on stage, spare a moment to open your ears.

Tip: The Australian Ballet’s Chief Conductor, Jonothan Lo has amazing insight on the music in ballet, you can learn more about the music behind the movement at ballet tv.

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Photo Kate Longley

Ballet loves company!

Be it a romantic night out, a group of friends or a family-friendly event, everyone is welcome at the ballet. Relive the performance hights post show with a delicious dessert or beverage.

Tip: Compare notes afterwards! There’s so much to see on a ballet stage that often your companion will have noticed completely different details to you.

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Artists of The Australian Ballet, Jewels (Balanchine), 2023
Photo Kate Longley

Don't overthink it

At the heart of it, the appeal of ballet is simple, incredible athleticism and artistry set to beautiful music. Don’t worry if you don't know what a ballet means or if you're not "getting", enjoy the sheer brilliance of the talent artists on stage and be swept away by the soaring music.

Tip: Try an abstract ballet. The non-narrative structure means there's no pressure to understand a plot, and you can simply enjoy the magic of dance.

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Jade Wood and Brett Chynoweth in rehearsal for Christopher Wheeldon's Alice in Wonderland©, 2019
Photo Kate Longley

Take a closer look

Investing in a pair of opera glasses can give you a whole new perspective on the performance. Check out the fine detail of costumes (classical tutus, with their hand-sewn embroidery and beading, are works of art in themselves), or get a movie-goer’s view of the emotion on the dancers’ faces.

Tip: The major theatres often sell or hire opera glasses at their information desks, so you may be able to pick up a pair on your way in.

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Aya Watanabe and Cameron Holmes, Don Quixote (Nureyev), 2023
Photo Rainee Lantry

Love is always lovelier the second time around

Seeing the same ballet twice (or three, four or five times!) is incredibly rewarding. Different dancers interpret works in fascinatingly different ways, and you’ll be able to catch moments and nuances you missed the first time.

Tip: Switch up your seat! The stalls and the circle are the prime parts of the theatre, and both the close-up and the overview have their charms.


Purchase a souvenir program

Take home a special memento of the performance with a souvenir program. Available for purchase at the theatre, these programs include heaps of information about the production, cast and and creatives as well as gorgeous behind the scenes photography. Treasure your experience and start your program collection.

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Ako Kondo and Chengwu Guo, Romeo and Juliet (Cranko), 2022
Photo Rainee Lantry

Filming and photographs

During the performance it is important your phone is either off or on silent (no vibrate mode, we can hear you!) to maintain the atmosphere of the ballet and also as a general courtesy to the performers and other audience members. You are not allowed to take photos or film during the performance, but please feel free to take photos at the curtain call (bows), before and after the performance. We love to see your pics so remember to share and tag #ausballet or @ausballet on Instagram when uploading.