My First Ballet: Sleeping Beauty │Review

My daughter’s favourite part of the week is most definitely her ballet class on a Friday after school. She has taken part in ballet classes since she was 2.5 years old, and in a couple of weeks will be doing her first exam. I’ve been wanting to take her to see a ballet for awhile, but wasn’t sure she was old enough to sit nicely throughout a full length ballet, or whether she’d fully appreciate and understand the performance. 

We have enjoyed watching the CBeebies Presents ballets on television (for example Goldilocks and the Three Bears) and had seen that Northern Ballet were touring with those shows, but there were no performances at a suitable time or location for us. I knew that the English National Ballet also did performances for children, as I used to work in an office above the theatre in London where they perform these, so I had a look online. It turns out these ballets are taken on tour, and they would be performing in Oxford, so I went ahead and booked a couple of tickets for My First Ballet: Sleeping Beauty performed by the English National Ballet School at New Theatre Oxford.

It was the first time I’d been to New Theatre Oxford, but it’s very nice venue. We had seats in row B of the Circle, and we had a good view of the stage. If your child hasn’t been to a theatre before English National Ballet has actually produced some lovely resources and this “Going to the Theatre” sheet could be helpful to look at with you child before you go.

If you’ve been to a ballet before you probably know that the story is told through dance and ballet mime. However, to help the children along, this performance included a storyteller. The storyteller was excellent and he really kept my daughter engaged from the start. (The little magic tricks he included in his storytelling certainly helped with this!) She was able to follow what was going on with ease, and just asked a few whispered questions when the music overwhelmed the storyteller’s voice and she couldn’t quite hear what was being said.   

Personally, I was a little disappointed at the lack of live music. For me the orchestra is a huge part of attending a ballet. I didn’t expect there to be a full orchestra on this occasion, but there was just a recorded soundtrack. My daughter, on the other hand, didn’t feel that the performance was missing anything and lent over to me at some point during the second half to whisper “oh, I just love the music!”.

The performance was an excellent length for younger children. We attended a morning performance which started at 11am, and we left the theatre around 12.30pm. I didn’t really take note of the timings but I think the first half was around 40minutes long, there was an interval, and the next half was about 25 minutes long. The traditional ballet story and music was rejigged for the My First Ballet performance, but it really worked so beautifully for it’s young audience. I think we were both a little confused about a scene in the woods where we first meet the Prince, and the storyteller appeared as surprised as us to be introducing Puss in Boot, Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf, but the dancing, costumes and theatre design were all incredible.  

I thought that My First Ballet: Sleeping Beauty was a fantastic introduction into world of ballet. My daughter was enthralled from the start and when leaving the theatre asked if we could attend the matinee performance too. I suggested we keep an eye out for when they are performing again instead! After the show she danced all the way through Westgate shopping centre to get some lunch, and then danced all the way back to the bus stop. I think it’s safe to say she enjoyed herself.


Have you taken your children to the ballet or a theatre performance? What would you recommend for families? Let me know in the comments.

My First Ballet: Sleeping Beauty