On Your Toes: Short Ballets for Short People to See

Read next

Ballet is a feast for the senses. Beautiful costumes, thrilling leaps and mesmerizing music. But let’s get real – when you’re under 4 feet tall, you don’t need three hours of it. (And if you’re at the ballet with someone under 4 feet tall, odds are you aren’t having too great of a time heading into the final stretch, either.) That’s where family-friendly ballets come in. You can enjoy all the beauty, all the thrills, all the music – all under an hour. Keep reading for some of our favorite short ballets.

New York Theatre Ballet
Famous for their exactly one-hour long, short-attention-span-friendly productions, NYTB is showcasing Sleeping Beauty on March 23rd and 24th. Not the reworked Disney version, mind you, but the Tchaikovsky-scored classic choreographed by James Sutton, who consolidated the 1890s production into a “pocket classic” specifically for young audiences by getting ride of many “extra dances” while keeping the storyline in tact. Watch the action unfold beneath a great (fake) oak tree as a curse on the day of Aurora’s birth leads to all sorts of complications and leaping about. Then, on deck for April is Goose! (as in Mother…but with a twist).

Florence Gould Hall
55 East 59th Street
New York, Ny
Online: nytb.org

American Ballet Theatre
ABT Kids may not be until June 1, but it’s definitely worth waiting for – and getting your tickets early. Recommended for children ages 4-12 and lasting one hour, this special one-day-only performance features selections from the company’s key pieces demonstrated by some of their top dancers and narrated by a member of the artistic staff in an attempt to introduce children to the wonders of ballet. In addition, ABT Kids offers a pre-performance workshop, wherein a teaching artist will guide boys and girls through a warm up and a short piece of choreography from the upcoming show. There might be fencing from Romeo & Juliet, or the fan dance from Don Quixote – you never know! No prior dance training is required, and little ones are urged to come dressed up – tutus welcome.

Metropolitan Opera House
Lincoln Center Plaza
New York, Ny
Online: abt.org


New York City Ballet
The New York City Ballet’s regular, hour-long Family Presentations include excerpts from classics like Sleeping Beauty, and offer commentary from not just the dancers, but also the musicians. The performances are preceded by a Children’s Workshop (tickets sold separately), where kids can explore the music, movement, and themes of a ballet they’re about to see, and even put on a show for friends and family prior to the main event.

David H. Koch Theater
West 63rd Street and Columbus Avenue
New York, Ny
Online: nycballet.com

Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts
The Beauty of Ballet comes to the Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts on Sunday, March 17 at 2:00 pm – for free! Join students and faculty from the School of American Ballet as they take you through the process of going from talented kid with stars in their eyes, to becoming a star yourself. Watch a class and see excerpts from world-famous ballets! But, be advised: No tickets will be issued for this event, and all seating will be on a first-come, first-served basis.

Walt Whitman Theatre at Brooklyn College
2900 Campus Road
Brooklyn, Ny
Online: brooklyncenteronline.org

More than an hour long, but by kids for kids:

Brighton Ballet Theater
The 26th Annual Children’s Festival World of Dance isn’t brief like the other events we’ve highlighted, but it is perfect for the short-attention spanned viewer as the sheer number of acts (as indicated by last year’s line up) means something is always happening. If you don’t like a particular routine, have no fear – something different is already on deck! Over 300 students from the Brighton Ballet Theater’s school are scheduled to perform, meaning there’s sure to be something for every discriminating (or cranky) taste.

M. Goldstein Performing Arts Center
Kingsborough Community College
2001 Oriental Boulevard
Brooklyn, Ny
Online: brightonballet.org

Ballet Tech
Did you know there is a public school in New York City that specializes in ballet along with the regular subjects? The Ballet Tech School auditions children from all five boroughs in the 3rd grade for possible admission in the 4th. Once there, the students receive a world-class dance education through the 8th grade. Curious about the result? The Ballet Tech kids will be performing in June alongside Elliot Feld, the school’s founder. What’s better than kids dancing for kids? How about a ballet inspired by the Marx Brothers? Or one that’s performed upside down!

The Joyce Theater
175 8th Avenue
New York, Ny
Online: ballettech.org

So get on your toes and hop to it! These ballets are short – you don’t want to miss anything!

— Alina Adams

Images courtesy of NYTB and Alina Adams