An Afternoon with Carolina Ballet

Last weekend, Asha and I went on a date to watch Carolina Ballet’s Love in the Times of the Day at the Duke Performing Arts Center in downtown Raleigh. Ballet, or live theater in general, often seems like a fancy thing that adults do on special occasions. But it doesn’t always have to be so.

Asha will be 6-years-old soon, but has been a great companion to many a shows since she was 3-years-old. We started small by seeking out easy to follow shows (Charlotte’s Web at Raleigh Little Theatre, and Carolina Ballet’s The Nutcracker were two of her first shows) and then as she got better about sitting still, not talking too loudly, not asking for popcorn (haha!), etc., we progressed to non-kid shows like the one we watched on Saturday – Love in the Times of the Day!

There are two things that parents might worry about when taking kids to a live show – 1. Being well-behaved, and 2. the cost of shows. This is what I have to say about that.

Being Well-Behaved

You can’t make a kid do anything he or she doesn’t want to. Don’t force it please! If all your attempts of sharing the story of the show beforehand (via books or You-Tube videos) has generated very low interest, I say wait till you find something else that will grab their attention. I also like to build up the experience by saying how we get to dress-up, get a beverage/snack in the lobby, or go inside a super special building. Getting there early before the show also helps a lot, so that they can literally explore the space and not be intimidated by it. Asha and I did just that as we waited for my friend Dottie to join us for the show. We twirled in the lobby, took selfies, and talked to the super-sweet staff who did their part in letting her know that she was part of something special.

Another helpful thing to keep in mind is that these days theater companies understand how to cater to kids. Raleigh Little Theatre for instance has sensory-friendly performances for many of it’s shows. The timing of these events is more kid friendly since they are usually in the afternoon; the lights don’t turn down as low; the show music/sounds are played at a quieter level, and BEST OF ALL, your kid is allowed to be a little loud and wiggly! I can’t imagine a better way to introduce kids to live theater!

The Cost of the Show

Shows can get pricey! In Chicago where I once lived, it was just normal to pay upwards of $70 for a ticket. Honestly, that is just too high a price to experiment with a child. In RTP thankfully, the normal ticket prices are much more affordable than bigger cities, so yay to that! But in general, no matter where you live, there are always special discount days for all shows! My friend Dottie, tipped me off to Carolina Ballet’s $25 ticket-day and that was the perfect price to bring along Asha too. Sign up for newsletters of your favorite performing centers, so that you don’t miss such announcements. And buy one less toy if you must, to save up!

Another option is to be aware of dance companies and smaller theaters (university and high school theaters for instance) in your area. I remember taking all three kids to a children’s matinee show by the American Dance Festival and it was incredibly fun to watch modern dance with all that jumping and acrobatics (here is my blog post about it). We have also seen a couple of shows at our local elementary school. In general, the idea is to make them aware of the concept of live theater and slowly build on it. Take chances at bigger shows and venues by purchasing cheaper tickets. So that even if you have to leave because your kid is just having an off day, it won’t make you mad. I know many parents who have taken their kids to live Disney shows which also seems like a great introduction. My only suggestion is that, make sure you don’t just watch kid-stuff because the idea is to bring them along to something you want to see too, and something they will learn to appreciate!

Asha and I had so much fun getting ready together for this show! She got to put on lipstick which was a highlight for her. During the show when it was dark, she would ask me in her quiet voice, if her lipstick was still on! Totally adorable!

Love in the Times of the Day was utterly mesmerizing (with live piano!). I am just a novice when it comes to this stuff, but it’s hard not to appreciate something that is just plain beautiful and cheerful! When one of the ballerinas came on stage, Asha recognized her as the “little mermaid” which is what she had seen her in last. How cool is that! The stage design and how it changes right in front of your eyes, is something even adults can appreciate, let alone the kids! And I like that boys and girls are all part of the show.

Arjun, who is wiggly and more unpredictable, has started asking to come along with us too! I am so glad, because I definitely want to take him to The Nutcracker in December, and we’ll do a few sensory-friendly shows at the Raleigh Little Theatre and whatever else pops up this summer to prep for it! In my opinion, I think he is ready!

I will leave you with this last bit of advice – don’t get mad when things don’t go your way, and try again another day! I am 100% sure that they will surprise you! = )

I would love to hear form you if you have taken your kids to any fun shows around town, or better yet, any crazy stories of how things didn’t go as planned because honestly, that’s part of the deal too!

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