Ballet is not the elitist event the media would like you to believe. Especially not when you compare it to the $400+ top ticket prices for the Toronto Maple Leafs hockey games (but that's the subject for another post).
So herewith: my guide to how to see ballet for cheap in Toronto. And bear in mind, you're paying over 70 dancers and the same number of musicians to entertain you for more than two hours. Not to mention the backstage crew, wardrobe staff and so on.
1) National Ballet of Canada
Seniors, students, and children get the best subscription deal, 45% off full price for Saturday afternoon subscriptions. This means $219 (or $36.50 per show) for seats in the fifth ring. For only $12 more ($231) you can choose any day for your performance rather than being limited to Saturday afternoons.
Once you have a full six-show subscription, another great deal is that you can get extra tickets for half regular price ("subscriber rush") anywhere in the house the day before a performance.
Thursday matinee subscriptions are even cheaper, 4 shows for only $122 in the fifth ring ($30.50 each).
For those who are too old or not old enough for those categories, there is a new "rush subscription" for Wednesday, Thursday and Friday nights, 6 shows for only $357 (just shy of $60 a ticket). For this you are guaranteed a seat in the 5th ring, but you get upgraded to the best seating left in the house as of 5 pm the day before a performance. In my experience. there are often really good prime orchestra seats left 24 hours before a performance (the ones that cost $184!), so this is a fantastic deal.
b) Single tickets
You can get a ticket to the ballet for $25 if you sit in the back of the 5th ring. Bring your binoculars. It's still better than not going to the ballet!
c) Rush tickets
The National Ballet reserves some seats in the house (along the sides of the 3rd and 4th ring) for public rush, at $35 each. You have to go in person to the box office as of 11 am the day of the performance. Although your view will be a little bit obstructed, it's still a good deal.
Standing room at the back of the 3rd and 4th ring is also available on the day of the performance, for $12. There are railings to lean on, and most ballet acts don't last longer than an hour. If your legs get weary, remind yourself that your spot is right behind people who have paid about $150 for their ticket!
Dancebreak rush: If you are between 16 and 30, sign up for www.dancebreak.ca. As of midnight on the day of the performance any remaining seats left in the house are released for dancebreak members for $35 each. Again, a fantastic deal.
Tickets are not guaranteed for every performance and are subject to availability at the discretion of the National Ballet.
2) Ballet Jorgen
Ballet Jorgen is a small company that performs without live music. Tickets for its Toronto shows, at the Betty Oliphant Theatre on Jarvis Street, start at $30 for students and seniors ($36 regular price). The theatre is small so even in the cheapest seats you're not far from the stage. Top price is $76.
3) Sony Centre Under-30 Rush
Sony Centre offers rush tickets for $15 if you join their under-30 club. If you're not under 30, make friends with someone who is, because the under-30s can get tickets for one guest of any age at the same price.
4) Ballet in the suburbs
You can often catch visiting companies in Burlington, Mississauga, Brampton, etc., where ticket prices rarely top $75. To see who's visiting in 2013-14, check out my Toronto Ballet and Dance Outings tab.
5) Ballet at the movies
Be sure to check out the schedule of broadcasts from the Royal Ballet, Bolshoi Ballet and other companies at the cineplex theatres. Top ticket price is $23; discounts are available for multiple shows and for seniors. But be sure to still support our companies performing live right here!
If you love ballet, please check out my season of outstanding ballet trips by clicking here.
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