The Art of Ballet

Ballerinas have the incredible talent to elegantly move their bodies in ways that express thoughts and emotions. A ballet performance may include a variety of costumes, scenery, and lighting. Ballet can incite a magical, provocative, exciting, or even disturbing experience. Famous ballets include The Nutcracker, Romeo and Juliet, and Swan Lake. Some ballets have no plot and solely rely on the motion of dancers to create images and provoke emotion.

Ballet emerged from the courts during the Italian Renaissance period. Noblemen and women attended prestigious events involving dance, music, and a huge celebration. Dance instructors taught the steps to the nobility to allow them to participate in future performances. During the 16th century, Catherine de Medici’s French court saw the art develop further. Her efforts led to the growth of a program involving dance, costume, song, music, décor, and poetry. King Louis XIV helped propel the art form into a professional endeavor for amateurs by dancing in many roles himself. A dance academy opened in Paris in 1661. By 1682, performers were dancing onstage instead of the courts. The efforts of Jean-Georges Noverre helped transform opera ballet into a dramatic narrative involving relationships between characters, an art form known as ballet d’action.

During the 19th century, classic ballets evolved to include supernatural and magical themes. It also conveyed women as passive and fragile. These dances became known as romantic ballets. In addition, dancing on the tip of toes or pointe work became the norm for ballerinas. The popularity of ballet increased during the latter part of the 19th century in Russia. In fact, ballet soared to new heights with the development of timeless narratives, such as the Nutcracker and Sleeping Beauty. Russian choreographers focused on classical technique while incorporating difficult sequences into performances. The classical tutu was also introduced during this time.

Ballet has transformed in style over the centuries. Classical ballet reached its height during the 19th century, with the influence of famous choreographers living in Russia. Classical ballet involves graceful movements, pointe work, turn-out of the legs, balance, symmetry, and emphasizes story ballets with elaborate sets. During the 20th century, neo-classical ballet reached its height with the work of famous choreographers, such as George Balanchine. Neo-classical ballet involves increased speed and energy. It counters the classical form with a stripped down story line and paired down sets. Contemporary ballet incorporates elements of modern dance. It involves floor work, a greater range of body movement, turn-in of the legs, and pointe shoes. Famous choreographers Paul Taylor, Dwight Rhoden, and Twyla Tharp helped shape contemporary ballet into the respective style of today. It continues its multi-faceted approach by incorporating various styles, costume, and sets to appeal to a wider audience.

Many parents decide to enroll their students into ballet courses early in order to get them physically and socially involved with others. While the best ballerinas typically start early, anybody can benefit from the body awareness, muscle control, and emotional development that this art form has to offer. With that said, ballet can prove challenging and rewarding for anyone who dedicates themselves to it. It improves posture, mental acuity, physical prowess, and increased flexibility. Ballet also helps students discover hidden talents due to the numerous roles involved in the performance arts. Exceptional students can pursue dance as a vocation, making ballet a limitless opportunity for all passionate ballerinas.

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