The other night, I had the pleasure of going to the ballet. There were pieces I liked, and pieces I didn’t like. When I liked a particular piece, I would clap at the end of it. I tend not to clap while someone is still performing because I don't want to do anything that could be disruptive to the performer or to fellow audience members. That night, dancers didn’t have to do so much as lift their legs up high, and there was thunderous applause.
I asked a good friend and ballet enthusiast his thoughts on when to clap and not to clap.“I think it goes beyond etiquette and people knowledgeable about ballet get it – dancers have to hear the music to keep time. That’s hard to do over applause,” he explained.
He does agree it’s hard not to applaud for a phenomenal pirouette or pas de deux giving dancers a rush from the show of appreciation. “But one should take care not to drown out the music,” he pointed out.
The same goes for opera, best to save the applause at the end and not after every high note. Nothing terrible will happen for clapping when the feeling hits you but holding applause could make something wonderful happen – such as a magnificent, uninterrupted performance.