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Ballet Competitions: To Applaud or Not to Applaud?

At many dance events, applauding after a performance is the norm. Sometimes you just can’t contain your excitement! But a ballet competition can feel different, with its air of seriousness and underpinnings of formality. It’s common to wonder, “Should I applaud after each dance to show that I enjoyed it?”

It may surprise you that for ballet competitions, the answer is often no, don’t clap! Unlike many other dance performance events, ballet competitions often request that you not applaud the dancers after each piece. But why is that?

Well, typically clapping at a dance event is a way for the audience to show appreciation. At a ballet competition, clapping (however appreciative it is) can be too much of a distraction for the performers and judges. Not having applause protects the dancers and judges from this distraction and keeps them zoned in on the task at hand.

Because ballet competitions are centered around this unique atmosphere of intense focus, clapping to show appreciate is simply not a necessity. And refraining from applause demonstrates respect for all the participants’ feelings. It helps ensure that favoritism from the audience does not influence the dancers’ performances or the judges’ feedback.

Another important factor is the pacing of the event. Applause can often put competitions behind schedule, sometimes even adding up to a full minute of time between pieces. With many entries to permit onstage and a finite number of hours, removing the element of applause allows performances to happen efficiently with minimal disruptions to the agenda.

It’s easy to forget that ballet competitions are not like other performances in this way! Often our automatic response to watching a dance onstage is to applaud. It takes a bit of a mindset-shift to be in the audience at a ballet competition and refrain from clapping. The added benefit of the experience, as an on-looker, is that it’s less distracting for you too!

At the US Prix de Ballet, our no-applause policy is just like that of our mentor company, the Japan Grand Prix. We strive to make sure that our participants and judges always feel important and valued throughout our event! Our goal is to offer a ballet competition that upholds the highest standards of integrity and artistry, no applause needed.

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