Cincinnati Ballet and Over the Rhine Live
Cincinnati Ballet and Over the Rhine Live

One of the things I’ve loved most about growing up in Cincinnati is the vibrant arts scene we are lucky to have.

One part of that is the Cincinnati Ballet, which puts on several productions a year including the beloved Frisch's Presents The Nutcracker each holiday season. I had the opportunity to attend a performance, which meant going to the ballet for the first time since I was fairly young. I’ll admit I was a little skeptical at first about whether I’d enjoy it, but the show was absolutely incredible and I would absolutely recommend checking out a performance.

Don't miss a chance to witness the grace, athleticism and storytelling of the ballet just because you're intimidated! We'll help guide you through the dos and don'ts so you'll look like a regular ballet attendee even if it's your first time.

Cincinnati Ballet
Cincinnati Ballet

Where do I park?

When I arrived at the Aronoff Center for the Arts (where most of the Ballet's major productions are performed), it was absolutely packed. Though there’s plenty of parking around downtown, if you want to be close, get there on the early side! I parked in the Fountain Square Garage – when it's nice out the short walk isn't bad. Since I tend to run early, I was parking around 30 minutes before showtime.

Will there be an intermission like during a theater production?

The Aronoff’s small snack and drink bars were open when we arrived before the show, and they remained so during the intermissions, so it’s easy to hang around and get a drink while you wait for the show to begin. The show started shortly after I took my seat, and this particular production consisted of three pieces. Between each of the three pieces, there was a 10-15 minute intermission to allow the audience to use the restroom, get a drink, or simply stretch their legs. And you are allowed to take food and drinks into the theater so no need to gulp it down!

Do we have to dress up?

Most of the audience was fairly dressed up: dresses or slacks for the women, coats and ties for the men. This was a bit dressier than I was used to from attending theater at the Aronoff, so be prepared for that.

Can I bring my kids?

The age of the audience ranged from very young – not even in elementary school – to well into retirement, and everything in between. Though it was a broad age range, it seemed that there was something for everyone to take away from the show.

Cincinnati Ballet: Frisch's presents The Nutcracker
Cincinnati Ballet: Frisch's presents The Nutcracker

How do I know when to clap?

The pieces ranged from serious to sensual to silly, with the principal dancer leading the company through the final piece in a funny, thoughtful, and relatable way.  Throughout the show, at the end of each individual performance, typically the dancer(s) would bow, and the audience would clap and on occasion even give a standing ovation. However, it was not unusual, particularly during solos or pas de deux (duets), for the audience to clap after the dancers performed a particularly difficult or impressive step. There is also a curtain call for the whole company at the end, which merited a standing ovation at the performance I attended. 

What else can I do downtown before or after a performance?

Anytime you go to the Aronoff, I fully recommend getting a great dinner at one of the many nearby restaurants. Some of my personal favorites are Nada, right next door (the Nada Sliders will change your life); Rock Bottom Brewery on Fountain Square (some of the best root beer in the city); and of course no trip to Cincinnati is complete without Graeter’s ice cream with chocolate chips the size of your head!

Interested in attending a performance? Click here to find upcoming Cincinnati Ballet shows!

Written by Hannah Regan.