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What you Need to Know About Attending Dance & Ballet Recitals

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By Samantha Bellerose, B.Ed, Dip.Dance (Performing Arts)

Are you attending a dance or ballet recital to watch your niece or nephew perform or maybe your friend’s kids or your cousin’s kids dance and you are not quite sure what is expected of you?

Don’t fear we have you covered with some of the things you should look out for or avoid doing at a dance or ballet recital you will be attending!

We see the backs of a group of young dancers in costume on stage about to perform in their dance recital

What is a Dance or Ballet Recital?

A dance or ballet recital is a performance by amateur dancers, usually children or teenagers showcasing all their training and hard work from lessons taken throughout the year on stage in a theatre at the end of the year or dance season.

Dancers will usually learn choreographed routines lasting roughly 2-5minutes that they perform on stage in costume and stage makeup. If a dancer has been learning several styles of dance they will generally perform in several different routines that showcase the learning of that particular style of dance. For example, a dancer may be in tap dance, a ballet dance, and a musical theatre routine.

A ballet recital may differ in that an actual ballet or parts of a ballet meaning a story that is danced may be performed such as the story of The Sleeping Beauty or Cinderella for example.

How Long will the Dance Recital Be?

A dance recital can go from about 50 minutes to up to three hours, but most will average around 2-2.5hrs including an interval.

If you are going to a ballet recital the performance is usually based on a ballet story such as The Nutcracker or Sleeping Beauty or something similar and this will have a set time which might be on your ticket if not just ask the ballet studio teacher as they will know the answer to this.

Generally, a ballet recital like this will have two 40-50 minute halves.

If you are attending a dance or ballet recital made up of different routines danced by the various classes at the school you can determine the length of the concert by finding out how many routines are being danced and multiplying that by 5 mins.

5 minutes gives each group time to get on and off stage and for props or scenery to be set and the curtains to open and close as well as for a 3minute dance routine to be performed. So if you find out there are 24 routines the concert will possibly go for 2 hours. Also, add on another 20 or 30 minutes for an interval or if the concert starts late.

Can I Leave the Dance Recital After My Dancer Has Performed?

Knowing that a dance recital can go for two hours, some audience members may be tempted to leave once their dancer has performed on stage. There are several reasons other than it being extremely rude to not do this.

Firstly, most dancers are in more than one item or dance. Secondly, many studios have a finale in which your dancer may perform and give out awards at the end which you may miss.

Lastly, if you leave early, you will not be around at the end of the performance to congratulate the dancer you came to see, meaning they may not even realize that you even attended!


Some studios specifically put their preschool or junior routines in the first half of a recital so those families can go home during the interval.

Other schools instead put on several recitals – one for their junior students and another for seniors so the recital does not go for too long.

So find out what the etiquette on this is at your school.

At the end of the day leaving and not watching others in the dance recital might be considered rude because everyone else was kind enough to sit through your child’s performance and will probably expect the same from you.

Can I Sit Anywhere I Want at a Dance or Ballet Recital?

Where you sit at a dance or ballet recital depends on your ticket.

Generally, recitals will have allocated seating meaning you have to sit in the seat number and row that the ticket states. This is mainly to avoid the following don’t…

But some recitals are open house, meaning you grab the seats available when you walk in.

If this is the case it is not a great idea to save a whole row of the best seats for a large group of people you hope or expect to come.

It is okay to save a few, but saving a whole row is rude. And it makes it harder for those trying to get seated to find a spot.

Do I Need to Pay for My Ticket If I Was Invited To Attend?

Always confirm with whoever invited you to the dance recital whether the invitation to attend means they are paying for the ticket or whether they expect you to pay for the ticket.

There is no clear rules or etiquette about this one as every individual person will value money, gifting, and invitations to events in different ways. So never assume – just ask!

Should I Bring young Children to a Dance or Ballet Recital?

Bringing siblings and children to a ballet or dance recital is absolutely fine, but remember even though it might be exciting to watch a brother or sister dance, young kids will still have to sit quietly without too much fidgeting for 1-2 hours.

Getting someone to watch younger kids so that you can enjoy the concert or recital might be a good idea for your family. I have always taken my daughter’s younger brothers with us, but that was our preference!

What happens if I need to leave my seat during a recital?

You are not confined to your seat for the whole of a dance recital. If you need to get up to use the bathroom or because you really need some air that is fine, but

Do not leave your seat until a routine or dance number is over.

It is important not to get in people’s way because it might be the people’s dancer on stage at that point behind you or in your row that you are stopping them from seeing!

Also, the hustle and bustle of moving and getting people to pull in their legs, pick up their bags etc so you can get past often causes noise and distraction for both the dancers on stage and the audience.

The best advice is to use the bathroom before you get seated. This way you will not interrupt any other parents watching their kids.

Do I Need to Bring Flowers or A Gift for a Dance Recital?

This is entirely up to you! A gift or flowers is always nice to receive, but you are not obligated to buy anything for your dancer. For more information check out our article Do you need to give a dancer flowers or a gift after a dance recital?

Can I Take Photos or Video of my Dancer on Stage?

A recital where audience members have permission to take video and photos is very unusual!

Unless you are told otherwise – No you cannot take photos or videos of the dancer you are coming to watch on stage.

Generally, dance studios hire a professional videographer to film the recital and this is purchased by the parents of the dancer or is part of their recital package, so you can view the performance again on that video if you wish.

Most schools also have what is called photo day, where the students put on their costumes and have their photos taken by a professional photographer.

There are several reasons you are not allowed to take photos and videos of children on stage at a dance recital and some of these include:

  • Copyright of music
  • Copyright of choreography
  • Can distract the dancers, especially if a flash is used
  • Screens on phone cameras can distract other audience members
  • Screens on phone cameras can be seen in the videographer’s professional video
  • Moving around to get the perfect shot or so you can see your dancer can distract the dancers and audience members
  • You do not have permission from the parents of the other children to film or photograph their children even if you are only trying to focus on your own dancer.

Finally, if you are allowed to take photos, you should never post them on social media with other children in them onto social media without the approval of their parents. You may see the dance studio do this, but this is because the parents all sign a waiver when they join the studio which gives them permission to do so, you however have not been given this permission.


If you have more questions that have not been covered in this article I would love to hear them!

Please contact me by clicking on the contact link at the bottom of the page!