A Brief History of Ballet
Hello and welcome back to the blog here at DansationsWNY, the premier pre-professional dance studio in Depew, NY! Here, we aim to provide valuable resources to parents and dancers both, including our existing students and potential new students. Today, we wanted to go over a popular slice of our dance program, Ballet!
Ballet is a dance style rooted in Renaissance Italy and has lasted centuries to this day because of its graceful movement, evolution to the times while respecting where it came from, and classical allure.
Origins and Establishment of Ballet
The origins of ballet stem from Renaissance Italy, in grand ballrooms where performers twirled their way into the hearts and minds of nobles. The masters of dance at the time taught the nobility, who brought the dance to courts.
By the end of the 1500s, an Italian noblewoman, Catherine de Medici, brought ballet to French courts by way of King Henry II. Catherine had a great passion for the arts, and her extravagant performance of ballet de cour (a program with dance, decor, costumes, song/music, and poetry) helped cement ballet’s place in the pantheon of dance.
Around a century later, King Louis XIV assisted in its popularity by standardizing the movements and performing himself. Louis also brought many of the terms we recognize in ballet today, and that’s why there’s a heavy French influence in movement names.
Transition to Romantic and Classical Ballet
The influences of King Louis XIV and his own passion for dance began a proto-classical period of ballet. By the end of the 1600s, Paris had established ballet schools and the art had transitioned from royal courts to stages. Early classics just before the 19th century like Giselle and La Sylphide ushered in the Romantic Era of ballet. These performances centered around the supernatural, spirits, and magic, and dance moves like en pointe were developed. Once the 19th century rolled around, ballet captivated the rest of Europe, especially Russia.
The ballet of the mid-1800s from Russia is where Classical Ballet began to take on shapes we may recognize today. Its popularity in France itself began diminishing, but it never went anywhere. Masters of ballet like Marius Petipa were the architects of the Russian Ballet, and his performances to the Russian Tsar’s courts demanded a heightened technical skill and narrative structure. You may recognize his works as “The Nutcracker”, “The Sleeping Beauty”, and “Swan Lake”! This is also where many of the costumes we associate with ballet come from.
Ballet in the 20th Century and Beyond
Heading into the 20th century, Russian ballet choreographer Sergei Diaghilev, opened the company Ballets Russels in Paris, France – bringing ballet full circle. Diaghilev and another choreographer, Michel Fokine, experimented with movement and costume, seeking to move beyond the binds of classical ballet’s form and story. One of the former’s works, alongside composer Igor Stravinsky, created a work called The Rite of Spring, so vastly different it incited a crowd riot.
These ideas brought rise to the neoclassical ballet movement pioneered by ethnically Georgian choreographer Geroge Balanchine. Neoclassical ballet is the step between classical and contemporary ballet, and the production Apollo is widely considered its origin point. The New York City Ballet still performs this today, nearly a century later. The neoclassical style rose in response to what the Ballets Russels were doing.
Today, ballet is multifaceted. You can find all styles of ballet available, from romantics to classics to contemporary innovations, and a mix of all, creating how we know ballet today. As ballet continues to last as an established dancing discipline, choreographers create diverse styles of ballets, and performers are giving audiences a wide array of experiences in theaters.
Get Moving Today!
Here at Dansations, we don’t only have dancing available, we also have the best acrobatics and gymnastics classes around! Our youth program is perfect for your child and can provide lifelong benefits. Check out some of our available resources to get started.
Contact DansationsWNY today by calling us at (716).694.5196 or filling out a contact form! No matter the age of your child, there’s a program for them to get started dancing in WNY today. You can also sign up right away! Make sure to check out our schedule so you don’t miss a thing. Follow along with the blog to stay up-to-date, and check out our Facebook and Instagram pages! Go to the Buffalo area’s best school of dance and acrobatics, the premiere pre-professional dance studio, DansationsWNY! We always love seeing smiling new faces!