Americans call them “the nosebleed” seats.
British know them as the seats with “the gods.”
I, myself, like to refer to them as "the aerie" seats.
In reality they’re the top tiers, or balconies, of theaters.
In recent years I have found that I prefer these seats.
I have also recommended that others choose these seats.
I have unashamedly declared I was choosing these seats, not because of the cost, but because my enjoyment of the performance is dependent upon my chosen seats.
From the top balcony, you see faces less well,
however you see visual patterns better.
You see the actors less well,
but their staging and movement better.
You see dancers less well,
but the fluidity of their dancing appears better.
You see the costuming and make up less well,
but more clarity in the overall character portrayed.
When you are seated further away you are less distracted by other matters (a broken bow string, the visual age lines marked on a youthful actors face to show age, the wrinkles around the dancer's ankles, etc.)
An obvious benefit of the higher balconies is they are often the less expensive (or, less delicately put, "cheap") seats.
The less obvious benefit is the overall experience of the show, be it a concert, a dance, play, or a musical.
You will see not only what is going on at the front of the stage, but you will also see the entire stage.
You will be able to see the orchestra pit. I have been known to determine my enjoyment of a musical just by seeing how many and what type of instruments were in the orchestra pit.
[The more electronic instruments, the less enjoyment. The more REAL (i.e. traditional) instruments with human players, the more enjoyment. This topic in itself could be another rant, I mean, blog post.]
Not only do I recommend that audience members select these seats, I would urge the performers (actors, musicians, dancers, choreographers and directors) to do so.
I recall my high school choral director would allow members of the chorus to go out into the audience during rehearsal to listen to the group.
Following his lead, I would often have my own students listen from the audience.
Performers learn so much from this experience. It gives new perspective. It enriches the performers own performance.
Audience members in the balcony seats do not experience a sense of separation from the activity on stage.
They are often the most attentive section in the theater because they appreciate the experience a little bit more.
Besides, theirs is the best view in the house.
The seats in the aerie.
Just one of those times when less is better.