From Class to Stage, Part II: Dress Rehearsal

Welcome back to the second part of my series on my experiences with ballet! Last week was all my ballet class experience, what I do to get ready, what I need for class, and what goes on in a class. This week is all about dress rehearsal, something not usually seen by “outsiders”. It is sometimes a little hectic and chaotic, there is a lot of warming up and continual movement, and there are usually quite a few mistakes. However, a bad dress rehearsal means that it will be a good show!

From Class to Stage- (1)

We start with tech rehearsal! Sometimes this is the same day as dress rehearsal, sometimes a separate. You don’t need to be in costume and make up (though you may be), and it’s more for you to get accustomed to the stage set up, the music cues, and the lighting. More importantly, it’s a chance for the tech crews to figure out what they need and to ask any questions that they might have. In this case for me, tech and dress rehearsal was the same day, making for a long Sunday!

Dress rehearsal selfie.jpg

We started with tech rehearsal in the morning. I chose to put on my make up at home and do my bun at the studio. It all depends on what I’m feeling at the time. I had just started using my BareMinerals palette, and I wanted to do my make up in natural lighting to make sure that nothing was off. I was able to do my bun in peace when I arrived, and then set about warming up. My warm up is no different for class, rehearsal, or performance- I just give myself more time when I know that I won’t have a class to continue it on. For a show that are distinct different pieces with different groups, tech rehearsal might not be in the order of the show. If you are factoring in costume and hair changes for “practice”, this is something you have to keep in mind.

If a typical piece is 3-4 minutes long, most tech rehearsals allow for 10 minutes per piece. You may run it through with music multiple times, or as we did, you run it fully once, and then adjust spacing throughout with your remaining time. It will also serve you well to allow time for any questions from the music and lighting crew as your performance cannot happen without them!


I spent the time in between the tech rehearsal and dress rehearsal running the piece on my own, stretching and staying warm, and eating some snacks. I went with my pretzel snack bites, a bunch of veggies, and apple slices with peanut butter. These are good for keeping me feeling full without feeling weighed down.

Dress Rehearsal Portrait.jpeg

And then, dress rehearsal! Dress rehearsal typically is in show order, and you change your costume, hair, and any make up that you may need to! You run it once, and that is typically it (unless there is a huuuuuge issue, but this is unlikely by this point). I prefer having a dress rehearsal with people in the theatre to get you into the right frame of mind, but most dress rehearsals have few attendees! (If you are lucky, some ballet companies will allow season ticket holders and other VIPs in to see dress rehearsals but that it is hit and miss. ) I find dress rehearsal quite calming, it gives me a really good indication of whether or not I am in the right state of preparation for the show, and it highlights any areas I need to work on before performance time. I also try to make sure that someone else has a look at my make up on stage and tweak as necessary!

Do you think that ballet is fun or too formal? (And feel free to post any ballet questions you have in the comments!)

Until tomorrow,
The Historian!

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11 thoughts on “From Class to Stage, Part II: Dress Rehearsal

  1. careofmon March 29, 2017 / 6:52 pm

    I have been loving your ballet posts!!! I wish I could come to your performance! I think ballet is fun all the way! I love the energy and the music and the costumes and expressive but graceful arms and really everything. Just got the schedule for Boston Ballet’s coming year…Romeo and Juliet next spring πŸ™‚ Keep it up lady! Looking forward to the next post!


    • anhistorianabouttown March 30, 2017 / 5:11 pm

      Aww, thank you so much! I always think that ballet is wonderful in every aspect but then I immediately, “maybe it’s just because I’m so involved!”. Romeo and Juliet is BEAUTIFUL!! I’m also jealous, La Sylphide is wonderful, as well!!


  2. Trula Marie March 30, 2017 / 4:04 am

    Reading all your ballet posts makes me miss my dance classes when I was younger. *cue the tears* I wished I’d decided to go on into pointe like I had always wanted. But reading your posts about it all makes me smile.

    Tech days suck no matter what it’s for though. Musicals aren’t nearly as bad, but they’re close. Those were always the worst days for me when I was doing them all the time. The long days. Sometimes a group of us would sneak backstage and find a place to hide when we weren’t needed and nap.

    I absolutely can’t wait for the next part ❀


    • anhistorianabouttown March 30, 2017 / 5:15 pm

      That makes me so happy, I love being able to bring back memories! And you can still start pointe as an adult- you still have to do the requisite training for ankle and leg strength but it’s certainly possible!

      I wish I could have napped! Once I nap, I’ll be residually tired for a good 3-4 hours after. I don’t mind tech rehearsals if everyone is paying attention and fully present! If not, it’s a chaotic mess that doesn’t accomplish what it needs to. If we are all going to be here, let’s commit!!


  3. Charlotte Graham April 3, 2017 / 9:46 pm

    I love your ballet series of posts!! As I’ve said, I hope you keep these posts up when possible! Like we’ve talked about, I have an affinity for ballet because my late mother was a professional ballerina for her entire career until she had me. Reading your posts takes me back to my childhoods spent in studios. πŸ™‚


    • anhistorianabouttown April 4, 2017 / 7:30 pm

      That means so much to me! I’m loving being able to share something that I’m so passionate about with everyone, and I think that there are a lot of people who have spent some time in a studio at some point. I would have loved to be a professional dancer!!!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Em Linthorpe May 18, 2017 / 8:34 am

    This is a really interesting look behind the scenes! It takes me back to being 18 when I studied drama at college πŸ™‚


  5. thoughtsfromjasmine May 18, 2017 / 8:41 am

    Loved this! As someone who used to do ballet this really resonated with me.
    Jas xx


  6. emilypageart May 18, 2017 / 12:06 pm

    So happy to have found your blog! I’m ever-so-slightly obsessed with dance. A lot of my art over the last 20 years has featured dancers. πŸ™‚ Looking forward to reading more of your dance-realted posts!


  7. Pam Avoledo May 18, 2017 / 12:23 pm

    I remember dress rehersals back when I took dance classes. It seemed like such a long day. There was lots of waiting.


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