The Nutcracker in Your Neighborhood: Enhance Your Child's First Ballet Experience

Posted on: 26 July 2019

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Is your preschooler ready to see The Nutcracker in your hometown? If this is your young child's first trip to the ballet, take a look at the do's and don'ts of this first performing arts experience.

Do Talk About the Story

You may have seen this iconic ballet every Christmas for the past three decades. But it's not likely your four-year-old knows the story. A brief review of the timeless tale can provide your child with the content they need to actually watch the ballet. Beyond that, it can increase interest and get them excited for the show.

How much of the story should you share? Include:

  • The characters. Provide your child with characters names and basic descriptions. Visit the ballet company's website to find out if the production calls the main child lead Clara or Marie.
  • The settings. This includes the opening Christmas party and the Land of Sweets.
  • The transformation. Your child will see what looks like a doll become a prince. Explain that this is just pretend and part of the ballet's story.

If you're not sure where to start, let a children's author help. There are plenty of picture books that detail this epic story specifically for a preschool audience.

Don't Skip Snack or a Nap

When it comes to the practical aspects of the ballet, you want your child well fed, energized, and ready for the show. This means you need to pick a performance that matches your preschooler's schedule. To increase the likelihood your child will pay attention and enjoy the show:

  • Avoid nap-time. If your preschooler still naps, don't pick a performance that falls during or directly before their regular rest time.
  • Avoid late nights. Your child has a bedtime—and you should stick to it. Even though this is a special occasion, a late night may equal a cranky child.
  • Have a snack or meal before the show. Hunger can also turn your typically sweet child into a salty kid. Give your child a snack or meal before the performance.

Tie your child's pre-show snack or nap to The Nutcracker. Give your child a themed treat (such as sugar plums) or read them a naptime/bedtime book that follows the ballet's story.

Do Provide Rules

There are rules your child will need to follow during the performance. If you expect your child to follow them, you need to provide an age-appropriate list. A pre-ballet rule list should include when to stay quiet (during the performance), how to sit in the theater's seat, and when to clap.

What other do's and don'ts should you follow before and during your child's first experience at the ballet? The answer is up to you. Every child is an individual. Create your own set of expectations based on your preschooler, their needs, and what you feel they can handle. Learn more about seeing The Nutcracker by contacting services like Long Beach Ballet.