The First Timer's Guide to Ballet in Ontario

Ballet dancers grace the stage of a well-known ballet production

Photo credit: Hamilton Halton Brant

Here are some suggestions where to find the best ballet in Ontario and a few tips on how to experience it like a pro.

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Where to See Ballet in Ontario

National Ballet of Canada

Founded in 1951, the National Ballet of Canada is the premier company of the nation. With 70 dancers, its own orchestra and brilliantly talented directors, the National Ballet is known for its diverse repertoire of full-length classics, contemporary works and new commissioned works developed by Canadian choreographers. The company has toured Canada, as well as internationally, and has earned critically acclaimed accolades.

Canada’s Ballet Jörgen

Ballet Jörgen Canada (CBJ) is not only one of the country’s first-rate ballet companies and the fifth largest in the country, it’s also the only major Canadian ballet company with a repertoire that consists solely of original works. Ballet Jörgen has performed beautiful recreations of familiar stories such as Romeo and Juliet or Sleeping Beauty as well as the beloved Anne of Green Gables. CBJ was founded in 1987 by Susan Bodie and Bengt Jörgen in Toronto. The company has earned national and international recognition for its role in dance. It also has hubs in Ottawa, Hamilton, Halifax and Kitchener-Waterloo and performs and tours across Canada and northern USA.

Opera Atelier

Don’t let the name confuse you – Opera Atelier is one of the finest dance companies in Canada. The company is one of the world leaders in recreation and revitalization of ballet and opera from the Baroque period for a modern audience. Each production is carefully produced to blend historical accuracy, beautiful scenery, incredible music and, of course, the talent and athleticism of the dancers themselves. The company is based in downtown Toronto and offers performances throughout the year both in the city and on tour nationally and internationally.

Les Petits Ballets

Les Petits Ballets is a ballet school which was founded in 1976. The school has a performance expectation for all students – a vital part of dance education – and has created a performing company that features these dancers. The school trains dancers in the Russian Vaganova method and dancers are highly equipped and skilled with techniques in this beautiful artform.

Oakville Ballet Company

The Oakville School of Classical Ballet is renowned for its classical ballet education. The school was founded by Elizabeth Paterson and now is operated by her daughter, Amanda Paterson. The school trains dancers from beginners to professional students and is divided into both general and professional divisions.

The professional division provides intensive training for professional students aspiring to a career in ballet – many of these dancers have gone on to study with the Royal Academy of Dance and earned awards such as the Solo Seal and Genee Ballet Competition. The school holds high caliber ballet performances.


Tips for Your First Ballet Performance


When attending the ballet consider certain things like how to understand the performance and ballet etiquette to help get the most out of the experience.

  • Ballet storylines may be anything from tragedies to romances or comedies. Since ballet relies on formalized style of dance to narrate the story, some people new to the experience may find it hard to follow the plot. Experts and long-time enthusiasts recommend reviewing the story ahead of time.
  • Theatres and ballet companies do wonderful work providing a synopsis of the story and a cast sheet of the performers, so be sure to check out their websites for background information.
  • It’s not necessary to dress in black-tie attire but wearing more formal clothing on opening night of a performance is appropriate.
  • Arrive early. Most performance venues close the doors before the ballet begins.
  • Most performances will break for an intermission so you can use the washroom and take phone calls.
     

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