Spooky sights will be seen at the Zombie Ballet.
Spooky sights will be seen at the Zombie Ballet.

A Zombie Ballet? Be Still My Heart!

If previous efforts to drag your kids to something as high falutin' as the ballet have misfired, Sweet Sorrow: A Zombie Ballet may be a game changer. In fact, it could make this Halloween season the perfect opportunity to convince your kids that there's more to classical music than just predating 1990.

An original production that debuted last year, Sweet Sorrow: A Zombie Ballet adds vampires, zombies, lost souls, and more to the traditional Shakespearean story of Romeo and Juliet—though in this version, when the unlucky pair die, they don't stay dead for long. This year the ballet is bigger, bolder, and brighter than ever with even more spooky characters ranging from witches to gargoyles, imps, and spiders. Oh, and don't worry that this is just a lot of running around in costume; despite the Halloween-worthy costumes and sets, this is a real ballet with classical music you may even recognize. 

Fun facts: A short segment from the production actually won The Gong Show (yes, it's back on ABC) last year, and the ballet company is an inclusive one featuring dancers of a wide range of ages. Still, you might be worried that the show is too spooky for little ones (or not spooky enough for teens). I was pleasantly surprised by how effective classical music, even the more dramatic and moody pieces, can be in reassuring small children: while some very young ones were at the show when I attended, they did little more than babble happily. If you do have a skittish little one,  though, don't sit on the center aisles—even though it seems like the logical place to make a quick exit, dancers will be creeping to the stage that way in the first act.

Still, while some of the dancers are wearing ghoulish make-up, there's little to truly frighten kids who aren't likely to fully understand the original story or its zombie twist. While there is a funeral and a cemetery scene, there's no blood, gore, or special effects beyond some mist from a fog machine. I took my girls (then ages 5 and 7) last year, and not only were they not scared, they became ballet-obsessed and talked about the show for not just weeks, but months. For parents who have little kids taking ballet classes, a zombie-fied ballet is a pretty perfect mash-up of pop culture references and real dance. As for sulky teens, just remind them that this ballet is way cooler than The Nutcracker and buy them a T-shirt. 

While tickets are still available for both shows—Saturday, Oct. 20 at 7pm and Sunday, Oct. 21 at 4pm—consider taking little kids to the Sunday matinee if you want them to stay awake (of course, if you're hoping they'll sleep through the whole thing, maybe Saturday's your night...). The runtime is roughly an hour and a half with a 15-minute intermission, and I've seen kids as young as three in the audience for this show—so no fear of being the only family with young kids. Of course, don't be surprised if after the ballet your kids ask whether they can be zombies (or some other monster from the show) for Halloween.


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