5 Reasons To Stay for Curtain Call

Going to the theater to see live dance, music,, plays, etc. takes a lot of effort.

First, you have to figure out what to wear to the theatre. Got your big red ball gown on? Check.

Then you have to consider how to attend a performance. Are you sitting with your head at the correct angle. Double check.

What about after curtain falls? Is there a final bit of etiquette to consider? Why, yes there is. It’s called:

Curtain Call Etiquette. And it’s pretty simple. It goes like this… Clap if you liked it. This is hard to do if you aren’t there when the performers, choreographers, directors, conductors, come out to take their bow.

Here are five reasons to observe proper Curtain Call Etiquette.


  1. The show isn’t over just because the story is.

Seeing the curtain call provides you the audience member with a chance to see the performer as a person beyond the realm of their character. Are they serious and grandious with their bow, do they gesture to the orchestra, give a flower to their partner, impart a sense of humor? These are all choices made by the artist. If you leave early, you might miss something, like seeing confetti falling on several years of ABT Prima Ballerinas

Julie Kent's farewell performance

Julie Kent’s farewell performance

ABT in Manon 2014- Simkin and Abrera

ABT in Manon 2014- Simkin and Abrera


ABT Manon Julie Kent and Roberto Bolle

ABT Manon Julie Kent and Roberto Bolle


ABT Manon

ABT Manon

2. Leaving early means you must have somewhere really important to be very soon.

There are a few times this is acceptable, like if you’re going into labor or the new episode of Game of Thrones is on. Most people leave early because they do not want to get caught in the slow line exiting the theater or face the crowded parking lot. In other words, people that leave early basically think they are more important than all of those other suckers who stay to clap. It’s the theater equivalent of cutting in line. What makes you so special? Not cool at all.


THe typical Trader Joe's line

The typical Trader Joe’s line

3. Actual face-to-face payment for services rendered. 

When was the last time you actually purchased something from the person who made it? We do so much online, or through the mail. In more simple times, I might have had to go to a carpenter and ask for a table instead of ordering every single piece of furniture in my apartment from an online catalogue to be delivered and putting them together myself with these really helpful instructions.


I can’t think of the last shop I went into where the sales people had also made the goods for sale except maybe for the UNion Square Farmer’s Market. Talking to the interesting people who grow tomatoes like these is part of the charm of the shopping experience, and gives a greater value to the product itself because I connect it to the labor and life of another person.


The curtain call is a moment to acknowledge that a living, breathing person (or many people) put effort into whatever you just heard, saw, or felt.  The only other times I can think of that kind of interaction is if a construction worker like the plumber has to come over and fix your darn sink again. And while that service is definitely appreciated, it’s a service of necessity not luxury.

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4.Stretch and exercise.

If you’ve just attended a concert or performance, you’ve probably been sitting down for a while. Getting up and running out of the theatre as fast as you can is dangerous for your health. You might get a cramp. Giving a rousing standing ovation offers a chance for blood-flow to return to your muscles before beginning to move again.

A nice gentle stretch! (lephysique.com)

A nice gentle stretch! (lephysique.com)

5. Your appreciation is appreciated!

I can’t speak for all of the art forms, but dancers don’t usually make a lot of money. For me, the best performances were the ones where I felt a personal sense of fulfillment, was happy with my effort, felt that those efforts reached people. The only way I can know about the latter is through the curtain call. Or maybe a knowledgeable review but those don’t exist in many places do they? Money is of course important and necessary to live. However, ask ten dancers did they choose dancing as a profession and I’ll bet not one is going to say, ‘the money’. If the relationship between audience and performer is built upon give-and-take, it’s easy to think that paying money for a ticket is your way of giving. And that is correct and very much appreciated. But at least for me, real fulfillment from a show after I’ve given everything I had to give, came through my own sense of purpose and what I perceive as the audience reaction. Seeing bodies fleeing up the aisle before a curtsey honestly hurts a little

cce1 img_9306 img_9305.

Bonus obvious reason: it’s called respect. I don’t think I really have to explain this one.

Go forth and applaud!

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5 thoughts on “5 Reasons To Stay for Curtain Call

  1. Love this post! I think you should change the title and the sixth paragraph, though, as I’m counting five reasons. I refrain from making any jokes about dancers and math.

  2. Pingback: Audience Etiquette; How to attend a Show | BODIES NEVER LIE

  3. I’ll add one – if you leave early, it creates extra work and headaches for the ushers!

    Seriously, the front of house staff are in charge of the wellbeing of hundreds, sometimes thousands of audience members. There are all sorts of protocols in place at end of the show, for getting everyone out of the theatre safely. They may legally have to guide you out with their flashlight if you are moving around before the house lights come up, in which case they are basically abandoning a few hundred people in order to babysit you. They may not be able to get back to their place in time to open the main doors for the rest of the audience who did what they’re supposed to do and stayed in their seats until the show was actually finished. And I guarantee they all think you’re very rude 🙂

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