Buying a Ballet Ticket for the First Time: 3 Rules for an Adult Spectator

Buying a Ballet Ticket for the First Time: 3 Rules for an Adult Spectator

Anastasia Isaeva shares three rules that will help you not get lost in the theater playbill

Spectators who are just starting their acquaintance with ballet often find it difficult to decide which performance to choose and what criteria to use to be able to evaluate the production in advance. There are just three rules that will help you make the best choices but remember that theater playbills in Russia and Europe differ. We are talking about the Russian repertoire today.

Classic or modern

It might be difficult for beginner viewers to comprehend the large form of a classical performance and enjoy it aesthetically right away. It is worth trying to start with modern performances based on famous literary works: e.g., Lady of the Camellias staged by John Neumeier at the Bolshoi or Anna Karenina directed by Boris Eifman at the St. Petersburg Eifman Ballet Theater. Knowing the plot, you don't have to figure out what a certain gesture of the artists means, it will be easier to understand what is happening on the stage and follow the line of the dance.


Classical performances - Swan Lake, The Sleeping Beauty, Giselle, The Nutcracker, Don Quixote, etc. - are almost always in the repertoire. But in this case, it is critical to understand whose version of the ballet you are going to see: Swan Lake at the Bolshoi Theater will differ from the versions of the Mariinsky Theater, MAMT and regional theaters.

If you feel like getting acquainted with Tchaikovsky's ballets but not quite sure about The Sleeping Beauty that is several hours long, opt for the performance staged by Nacho Duato at the Mikhailovsky Theater. The modern interpretation of the ballet has made it more dynamic and lively. At the same time, the recognizable style of the masterpiece has been preserved. 

The Nutcracker, staged by Mikhail Shemyakin at the Mariinsky Theater, will be of interest to both adults and children. The original design, unusual interpretation and modern choreography will fascinate even those who watch ballet for the first time.


The venue where you are going to start your acquaintance with ballet is crucial too. The atmosphere and the professional level of artists, choreographers and musicians play an important role in theaters. All these features together impact your perception of the performance. Major iconic theaters ensure you a fuller and brighter experience.


  1. Choose a performance whose primary source you know. Don’t start with high-profile premieres and modern ballets; special preparation is required for this genre.

  2. Check out the choreographer who staged the production: if you don't know the name, read about the style of their performances and any peculiarities they have (this information can often be found on the theater's website).

  3. Opt for a well-known venue.