FIRST TIME AT THE BALLET?
there are only good questions
We want your first experience at San Francisco Ballet to be exceptional. Check out these helpful tips to enjoy all that the Ballet and the Opera House have to offer.
Is there a dress code?
Dancers are in costume, but you don’t have to be. You will see people in gowns and others in jeans. Wear what you like and what makes you comfortable.
What happens if I'm late?
Our ushers can only direct you to your seat when there is a break in the program, which may not be until an intermission, so please try to arrive early.
wait—I need more info!
Check out our most frequently asked questions and answers.
I’M NEW TO ballet. WILL I UNDERSTAND WHAT’S GOING ON?
You don't need to understand a ballet to enjoy it, but if you do want to know more, we have many ways to expand your experience before, during, and after a performance:
- Attend one of our pre- and post-performance talks, read your program book, or see our tips for watching ballet.
- Bring a friend to chat with during intermission about what you liked.
- Browse Backstage for video shorts, podcasts, and articles.
- Take your experience to the next level and sign up for a class or workshop.
MY FRIENDS AREN’T SURE ABOUT BALLET. HOW DO I CONVINCE THEM TO COME?
- Attending a performance is the perfect time to relax and connect with friends and family.
- Ballet fans (or soon-to-be fans) ages 21–39 can join The List to access last-minute ticket discounts, and groups of 10 or more attending may qualify for a group discount.
IS ballet REALLY FOR ME?
Ballet has a rich history (it recently celebrated its 350th birthday!) and it’s for everyone: young, wise, and in-between! We do recommend most of our performances for ages 8 and up, and Nutcracker for ages 5 and up.
HOW DO I GET To the opera house?
The Opera House is located at 301 Van Ness across from City Hall. We encourage you to take BART or MUNI, both of which have nearby stops. But if you do drive, the Performing Arts Garage and the Civic Center Plaza Garage are both nearby. You can even reserve parking by downloading SpotHero. Search “War Memorial Opera House” and choose your performance date.
WHAT SHOULD I DO if I arrive early?
WHAT HAPPENs WHile I'm THERE?
- The performance starts on time so arrive early.
- Most performances are divided into three parts: either three acts when a ballet tells a story; or three separate dances when it’s a triple-bill performance.
- There is an intermission between each act or piece, usually between 15 and 20 minutes long. Use this time to run to the bathroom, grab a drink, or both.
- You’ll know you need to return to your seat when the bells chime. They’ll ring eight, four, and two minutes before the curtain goes back up.
IF I REALLY LIKE SOMETHING, IS IT OK TO APPLAUD? OR DO I NEED TO BE QUIET?
At the symphony or the opera, you might be expected to hold your applause until the end, but not so at the ballet! A long tradition of balletomanes—people obsessed with the ballet or specific dancers; think of them like Raiders Nation for ballet companies—made it acceptable to clap if you see something impressive. And even cheering is ok once the dancers are taking a bow—but these days we ask you to refrain from throwing flowers. It’s a safety hazard.