A Guide for Ballet First-Timers


Thank you for joining us at the ballet! If you’re a first-time attendee, we know you might have some questions. Below you’ll find a helpful FAQ to guide you through your first BalletMet performance.

Have a question we don’t cover here? Please feel free to email us at [email protected] or message us via Facebook or Instagram (@BalletMet). We’ll get back to you ASAP!

Where do you perform?

BalletMet performs at the Ohio Theatre, The Davidson Theater (located inside the Vern Riffe Center) and sometimes at our own black box theatre located on our campus.

What do I wear?

This is our most-asked question, and the answer is: You probably won’t feel out of place no matter what you wear. If you want to wear jeans, go for it—we promise you won’t be alone. If you want to dress up, feel free. Many others do, too. We don’t see as much formal-wear in the theater as we once did, though it wouldn’t be unusual to see a tux or a gown at a performance. Basically, anything goes.

How do I choose my first ballet?

Our ballets are classified in two main categories:

  • Full-length: One ballet with intermissions, similar to a book with chapters
  • Mixed-rep: Several unrelated shorter ballets with intermissions, similar to a collection of short stories

Each ballet will qualify as one of the following, too:

  • Classical
    • Typically, classical ballets have costumes, scenery and music that go along with a story or a folk or character dance. The female dancers will normally wear pointe shoes and tutus.
  • Contemporary
    • There are no “rules” in contemporary ballet. Costumes will vary, as will footwear.

Still not sure? Check out our info graphic below to find out which ballet is right for you.

Dancers perform in Edwaard Liang's Giselle
2019-2020 BalletMet Season Quiz. FInd out your perfect show!

Is there a story?

It varies. Some ballets follow a plot and others are just about patterns or movement. Ultimately, ballet is meant to be for you to experience. What you take from it, how you interpret it—there is no right or wrong way.

Dorothy and the Prince of Oz Performance Photo

Do the dancers talk?

No, dancers express the story or meaning through the movement. In some story ballets, dancers will use pantomime (exaggerated movements) to help you understand what’s happening. If you see a ballet with pantomime, head to the lobby, where we’ll have more information and guidance. If you ever struggle to follow along, feel free to chat with a BalletMet staff member in the lobby who will happily answer any questions you have.

How do I find out more about the show I’m seeing?

Visit that show’s page on our website. We always have some fun things you might like to know beforehand. We often share fun facts, character bios, behind-the-scenes videos, Spotify playlists and photos. We continually add more info and media as we get closer to our performances.

What does a company dancer actually mean?

It means they are a professional, full-time dancer in our company, or group, of dancers, much like an NBA player to an NBA team. Our dancers all proudly live and work here in Columbus but hail from all over the world!

When do the dancers rehearse?

Because this is their full-time job, they come to work five days a week—just like any other job. Typically, they have class for two hours each morning to warm up, and then they go into rehearsals for three hours, with one hour for lunch, followed by another three hours of rehearsal.

Where can I get a drink?

We have both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks and snacks in concessions at every performance, and yes, you may take them to your seats. Insider tip: You can pre-order your intermission drink before the show and then you won’t have to wait in line!

Dancers perform in water in Airavata

When do I clap?

If you are wowed by something you just saw, please do applaud. At BalletMet, we love to hear clapping. It’s uplifting to those performing, as they can often feel your excitement and energy on stage. So applaud whenever you see fit! Note: Not every ballet company feels this way, so keep that in mind if you happen to be at another company’s performance.