Disclosure: Some of the links on this page are affiliate links, therefore I may be compensated if you purchase when clicking through my links. This helps keep the website running.
If you are new to watching ballet, you'll get the most enjoyment out of it if you are watching a ballet which you will actually like. The choice can seem bewildering at first because there are many different ballets which are in the regular repertoire of most ballet companies. Here, three top classical ballets are listed which will appeal to a beginner with an explanation of why.
This ballet story is about a wooden dancing doll that comes to life. The confusion that ensues in the love life of one of the villagers is comical. Coppelia easily got first place in this article and is a suitable ballet for a newbie to watch because:
- The humor factor is relatively high, guaranteeing a fun time
- The music (by Leo Delibes) is upbeat
- There are a range of different costumes
- There are a range of dance styles employed in different scenes during the performance, from classical pointe ballet with tutus to the czardas inspired by folk dancing.
2. The Nutcracker
This story features a nutcracker which is given to a young girl at Christmas. This nutcracker comes to life as a prince and leads the girl to different kingdoms to watch the different dancers. The Nutcracker is fun for a beginner to watch because:
- Each individual scene is not very long, making it almost impossible to get bored
- The around-the-world concept shows off a variety of different costumes and dances
- The music (by Pyotr Tchaikovsky) is well-known and its familiarity may reassure the newbie
3. Sleeping Beauty
This ballet story is about a princess who falls into a long sleep and is awakened many years later by a prince who is traveling with his hunting party. Sleeping Beauty is interesting for the novice to watch because:
- Some additional fairy tale characters are also involved, such as Puss in Boots and Red Riding Hood
- The music (by Pyotr Tchaikovsky) is easy on the ears
- It would fit with a beginner’s expectations of a classical ballet – tutus and pointe shoes with many different colors of costumes
Why is Swan Lake missing?
Swan Lake has purposely been omitted from this list. Although probably the best-known classical ballet, Swan Lake is not highly recommended for the first-timer because there is relatively little variation in costumes or dance styles throughout the ballet. This is not to suggest it is not worth watching at all; it is a true work of art and the music is amazing. Simply, Swan Lake is a rather “serious” ballet which appeals more to the enthusiast than the beginner and is best seen as the second, third, or subsequent ballet that someone might watch.
The bottom line
Coppelia, The Nutcracker, and Sleeping Beauty are each highly recommended as an ideal first ballet to watch by someone who is new to watching this art.