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What makes audience etiquette different at a ballet competition?

As a patron of the arts, you’ve probably experienced a wide variety of audience conduct at live performances. At a dance recital or competition, you may have heard quite a lot of excited cheering in the audience, sometimes even in the middle of a routine. Even at Broadway performances or concert dance shows, you’ve probably experienced widespread audience applause, and perhaps even audience participation!

At ballet competitions, however, the audience etiquette is a bit more reserved out of respect for the art, the performers, and the judges. Here are four of the differences in audience etiquette you can expect at the US Prix de Ballet:

  1. There is no applause at the end of each performance. This is to protect the dancers’ composure and the judges’ focus. We also see that it helps the competition progress smoothly with less overall distraction.

  2. Audience members remain seated during the performance pieces, although they can move in or out of the theater quietly between performers.

  3. Although we love young children and babies, this event is not appropriate for them. We suggest that audience members make advance babysitting or daycare plans so they can focus completely on their dancer.

  4. We expect any audience members’ commentary between performances or after the event to be positive and uplifting, in adherence to our values-driven mission. There are participants of many ages and skill levels, and we want all of our dancers to feel encouraged no matter which stage of training they are in.

Ballet dancers are known for their powerful body control and elegant performance quality. When they perform, they demonstrate more than proficiency in skill; they show a sense of accomplishment. Our audience expectations reflect exactly that; just on the other side of the stage—a little restraint, a lot of joy, and pure satisfaction.

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