Ballet Theatre Business-It Takes A Village To Put On The Show

Have you ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes of a ballet performance or theatre production? After doing some research online, I was amazed at the vast amount of planning and preparation it takes to put on even the smallest of theatre productions. Some performances are calculated weeks, even months in advance. By the time tickets go on sale, a large group of  hard-working professionals have been behind the scenes making it all come together. When I say vast, I mean hundreds of workers, professionals and crafts people.

Theatrical Costumes May Be Stocked, Created Or Transported

As far as costuming goes, the more characters and “variations” a ballet story has, the bigger the costume wardrobe becomes. In larger dance companies; there are assigned costume managers whose job it is to inventory, store, repair and fit all of the costumes for that particular ballet performance. A company may have to transport hundreds of costumes, props and accessories from one theatre to another. The job is very complex. Whatever isn’t transported is built, assembled and installed by stage hands. Dancers are fitted to existing company costume stock.

Royal Opera House Stage Maintenance
The Royal Opera House-on stage and backstage preparation requires the hands of many workers.

Why It Takes A Village For Successful, Profitable Theatre Performances

If you picture the size of a popular venue like The Paris Opera House in France or The Kennedy Center in America, you can only imagine how many workers they count on to put it all together and create a successful show of any kind. There are many separate departments that all have their part in making sure the performance goes as planned. Here are just a few of the departments that work in coordination so the show can go on:

  • Electrical Engineers
  • Camera and video specialists
  • Sound/ lighting experts
  • Wiring, props and special effects people

The Maintenance Department

How many maintenance workers does it take to keep a theatre healthy, sanitary and comfortable for both the dance corp members and the general public? A lot. Nobody really considers the hard working crews that sanitise the facilities, keep supplies stocked, vacuum the carpeting and polish the floors and windows. Everything needs to be cleaned, conditioned and maintained in a dance theatre. From the stage floor to the curtains, you can believe that it takes a lot of people to keep the stage area presentable to the public and safe for the perfomers.

Advertising And Marketing People

It can also take a village of people to make sure that a theatre has a profitable business year. Ballet is, after all, a huge business. Ticket sales aim for meeting the financial goal of having a “full house” at each and every performance. This is really true for smaller ballet companies. How are tickets sold? Through the magic of advertisment. Posters announcing ticket sales for an upcoming ballet have to be designed by somebody that has marketing skills and can coordinate with graphic designers and printers. This is a lot to think about, isn’t it?

Nutcracker Ballet Advertisement
A team of people work behind the scenes to sell tickets by creating well-designed advertisements for the upcoming performance.

Security And Public Safety Officers

In any public gathering there is always the potential for trouble; be it outside in the parking areas, or inside the theatre itself. Any venue that values the safety of their ticket holders, general work staff and the dance corp members will provide good security measures throughout the building. This prevents people from wandering into areas where they do not belong.

The Food Service Personnel

Imagine getting all dressed up to see your favorite ballet performance only to find out the theatre has no food service or refreshments for you during intermission. Ticket sales would plummet and the theatre would go broke. Not only do people go see a ballet performance for the dance and the music, but to have a wonderful “night out on the town”. Many reputable dance theatres around the world offer buffet meals by reservation for ticket holders. These are typically offered in upscale restaurants close by or in hotels near the theatre.

During my research into the topic of theatre food, I discovered several restaurants that plan menus just for the diners who will be attending a ballet nearby.  One example is The Bolshoi Theatre Restaurant whose chef prepares a special menu just for guests attending the Bolshoi performance nearby.

Bolshoi Theatre Restaurant
The Bolshoi Theatre Restaurant serves a special performance-night menu either before the show or after. This makes going to the ballet even more special.

Immerse Yourself In The Ballet World Through Many Different Channels

Young dancer off stage.Blue embellished tutu designed by Costume Creations U.K.
Young dancer off stage.Her blue embellished tutu is designed by Costume Creations U.K.

After examining how many job titles,  workers and coordinating establishments are involved in helping the show go on, I came to this conclusion; there are many ways to involve yourself in the magic of the ballet world. It isn’t possible that every ballet aficionado can  be a dancer, choreographer or costume designer. For me personally, this tutu blog enables me to hold the beauty of ballet close to my heart. I may not be able to dance physically, but I can still dance in my mind when I write about ballet-related topics.

Of course, the world of theatrical employment does not mean that every single worker involved in a performance is a balletomane. They may simply need the job. Because people love to watch ballet, many others can make a living.

I also did not mention the obvious; no ballet performance can go on without an orchestra. instruments, musicians and the dancers themselves. The detailed list of job titles that can be found contributing to a successful, profitable theatre production can go on and on.

Another group of people involved with ballet theatre production is one we rarely think about; the payroll and accounting department responsible for paying the company bills and the dancers. Yes, dear reader, if you work hard enough, you may someday get paid  to do what you love to do; dance!


“I regard the theatre as the greatest of all art forms, the most immediate way in which a human being can share with another the sense of what it is to be a human being.” -Oscar Wilde-


One comment

  1. yes there is so much work involved isnt there, and so much expense ! I would love to see a performance at the Bolshoi – how lovely it must be to have the special dinner also. Love the quote from Oscar Wilde – how true that is.

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