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Introduction When it comes to dancing, there is nothing quite like the style and elegance of ballet. Virtually every other style of dance originates with ballet, and all styles are compared to ballet in one way or another.
Introduction cont…∗ When it comes to art, precision and flow, ballet doesn’t take a backseat to any other style of dance.∗ Here is a brief history and timeline of this classic form or expression.
In the BeginningThe beginning of ballet can be traced back to the ItalianRenaissance courts of the 15th century. During that time,dancing and music were the featured in lavish eventsperformed for the noblemen and women of the day.Wedding celebrations were among the main types ofevents where the masters of dance taught their craft tothe nobility. From these humble beginnings, the art ofballet was born.
The 16th CenturyIn 1547, Catherine de Medicis became the queen of France.Her family were the rulers of Florence, Italy and sheintroduced the French court to the same dance shelearned in Italy.What is widely considered the very first ballet was createdby the queen’s chief musician Balthasar de Beaujoyeux in1581. It was called Le Ballet comique de la Reine, was overfive hours long and combined dance, special effects,singing and the spoken word.
The 17th CenturyIn the 17th century:∗Louis XIV helped to revive the French’s interest in ballet bytaking part in the ballets performed at his court.∗ He opened the first ballet school in 1661. The school wascalled l’Academie Royale de Danse and was designed fordancers to learn how to perform for him.∗ The five classic ballet positions were created by PierreBeauchamps sometime around 1670.∗ In 1681 ballets switched from the courts to the stage with theFrench opera Le Triomphe de l’Amour.
The 18th CenturyIn the 18th century:∗ French ballet dancers that have been trained professionally start performing in public around 1708.∗ The Russian Imperial Ballet of St. Petersburg was founded in 1738.∗ Dance costumes continue to be modified until Marie Camargo donned tights and removed the heels from her dance shoes, creating the ballet slipper.∗ Jean-Georges Noverre of France rejects opera ballets and pushes for ballet as a distinct art form all its own.
The 19th CenturyIn the 19th century:∗ Ballets inspired by Greek dramas and myths fall out of favor and fairytales, love stories and tales of escape grow in popularity.∗ Italian dancer and teacher Carlo Blasis pens volumes on the theory and history of ballet and codifies ballet techniques between 1820 and 1830.∗ Pointe shoes and tutus portray female dancers as heavenly beings, floating on air. The concept of the prima ballerina is born.
19th Century cont…∗ The first romantic ballet, called La Sylphide is created in 1832 by Italian choreographer Filippo Taglioni.∗ French dancer Marius Petipa joins the Russian Imperial Ballet in 1847, which vaults the city to the top of the ballet world.
Modern BalletBallet continued to evolve during the 20th century, spreading toNorth America and other parts of the world. Many differentcountries around the world now have at least one ballet schooland company.Several choreographers began crafting ballets with no definitivestory line, allowing the body movement to express the musicand translate human emotion.Today, ballet includes both classical forms and traditionalstories, as well as contemporary choreography and innovations.It continues to grow without losing sight of its origin.