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The “Ballet of Service” – Butler Service Style

By Butler Academy

Table Service – Ballet of Service


Do you know what is the “Ballet of Service” is it a ballet, is it part of table service and how to offer the “ballet of service” ?


A ballet of service is originally a formal style of serving, during which two or more servers perform a simultaneous act of serving. Although it may be applied to several styles of service (i.e. Plate service, Silver service, Butler service,) the basics of the” Ballet of Service” remain the same.


You will notice that performing a Ballet of Service is easier to do when using “Plate Service” , because the servers don’t have to wait too long for others to finish their serving. Therefore, this is the most commons style used for the Ballet of Service. In the chapter about the actual serving, I will explain more about it, and how the learned techniques can be applied to other styles of service.


These basics may also be used in less formal settings when the table is served by two or more servers, since it supports efficiency of serving and a professional attitude towards the guests.


  1. 1.    How to perform the Ballet

When all preparations are done, the Ballet begins. The servers line up in the pantry in the order they will appear at the table. In the example, server 2 will start, followed by 1, 4 and finally 3, since they round the table counter-clockwise and server two is furthest from the pantry.


Preferably, there will be a Head Butler in the room that orchestrates the servers. He decides when the plates can be served or taken, or when drinks have to be poured. A discrete “nod” of the head should be enough. Nowadays, a very common system is to provide the host of the diner with a beeper. Whenever the next action is to be taken, he will push the button, which activates a beeper (or preferably a vibrator) from the Head Butler.


The moment that all servers are on the left side behind their number 1 guest, the head butler or a designated server gives a sign on which all servers synchronically serve the plate. They will only let go of the plate at the moment that ALL servers have placed their plates at the under plate. Then they will synchronically step back, turn 90 degrees, and move back to the pantry. To go back to the pantry, they will complete the counter-clockwise circle they have started. The second and third group is served in the same way.


When pouring drinks, the servers will perform a Ballet of their own. Usually, the most important number 1 guests are placed opposite, or at least well spread over the table. These are served first, but synchronically. In case one of the two rejects a drink, the server will wait at this place until his colleague finished his serving. Then they will synchronically move towards the next guest, and perform the next Ballet.


One can choose to start with the numbers one, and then just offer every next to the right, or to make a separate Ballet Chart for the drinks. This last option is nice, but difficult and may be less interesting to see because of the distances to walk in between the servings.


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One Response

  1. Ernest Nolte says:

    What an Exellent day!!Congratulations to all the students for doing Exellent in the table Exam.We are really looking forward to the last 3 weeks of the course!!

    Saba Butlers always do it better!!

    Ernest Nolte

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