Cincinnati Ballet Offers Sensory Friendly Option for Ballet Toybox

Cincinnati Ballet’s annual Ballet Toybox is easily the most kid friendly performance of the season — and this year, it’s become even more family friendly with the addition of a Sensory Friendly performance. This special show happens at 5 p.m. on March 19th (the other show is a matinee at 2 p.m.). Sensory friendly performances are becoming increasingly more common (The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati has been offering a sensory friendly option with each of its Main Stage shows!), and we were excited to learn more about the Ballet’s sensory friendly show.

We sat down with the Cincinnati Ballet’s Education Director Julie Sunderland, who told us a little more about Ballet Toybox, the sensory friendly performance and what to expect from the Ballet going forward.

For those wondering what makes Ballet Toybox so special; the answer is, well, a lot. “This program has been designed to keep children engaged by proving education, information and silly dance breaks along the way. The program, which is under an hour, has three dance breaks in which we will explain plot points, learn about mime and practice dancing like a little swan. We take the dancing very seriously, but not the performance,” says Sunderland.

Swan Lake, Jr. has been slightly adapted for the hour-long performance, but families can expect all the characters and plot of the classic. “Audiences will [still] see the enchanted Swan Princess Odette, Prince Siegfried and the evil Von Rothbart and 16 swan maidens. There will also be interactive moments throughout that will engage you in the show and encourage audience participation!”

For families of kids with sensory sensitives, the ballet can be tricky. Sunderland says they’ve taken extra care to ensure the sensory friendly show meets these kids’ needs. Parents can expect the following during the Ballet’s sensory friendly performances:

  1. House lights will remain at half brightness during the entire performance.
  2. Entry and exit to the theater will not be restricted. You may come and go as you please.
  3. Volunteers will be stationed throughout the audience, lobby and outside the theater for assistance.
  4. Quiet areas will be designated in the lobby. 
  5. One of the act breaks will be a music only section to allow for a break.

And yes — you read that correctly; we said performances. Looking ahead, expect to see a sensory friendly performance during the Cincinnati Ballet’s family series next year: Beauty and the Beast. We love that the Cincinnati Ballet is making their shows more inclusive, as this art form provides a fun experience that families can enjoy together!

In between Ballet Toybox and the 2017-18 season, there are lots of kid friendly opportunities to enjoy the Ballet. There’s dance camp, young dancer programs and a summer intensive for pre-professional students. Find a full listing of Ballet programs here.

For more information on Ballet Toybox: Swan Lake, Jr., visit the Cincinnati Ballet’s website. Tickets are just $20 each and are going fast; call and reserve your seats today!

Feature image credit: Cincinnati Ballet website/Jennifer Denham.

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