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Ballet history

Ballet history

Ballet originates from a spectacle to entertain the court of Italy in a representation of the fencing of the 15th century. At the time, the performers would wear fashionable dress robes, which for the women, meant gowns that covered them to the ankles. This "Balleto" (little dance), as it was formerly defined in Italian, was more of theatrical performance that encouraged the public to participate at the end.

The "Balleto" of the Italian Renaissance quickly became out-fashioned, but by then the marriage of Caterine de Medici to the French King Henry II, had already brought the enthusiasm for this dance to France and been dubbed "Ballet". The art further developed by the French "Ballet De Cour" (social dances performed by the noblemen combining speech, verse, music, pageant, songs and costumes).

However, it wasn't until the 17th century, in the epoch of Louis XIV, before the art fell out of style, that Pierre Beauchamp codified in 1661 founding the "Académie Royale de la Danse" (Royal Dance academy). Thus, most of the vocabulary used in Balletis French.

Despite all the innovation added by Jean-Georges Noverre, Ballet went on decline in France after 1850. Fortunately, it was kept alive and nourished in countries like Denmark, Russia and came back to its Italian roots.

It is so that Louis XIV made of Ballet, the mere entertainment, into the Performance dance that consisted in bending the ankles and feet alone, it became a dance for concerts.

By then, three types of ballet had developed, Sérieux, Demi-Caractère&Comique (Serious, of Mild-Character & Comical), and the women - impeded by nuisances like corsets, heels, wigs and hoops - had started to play a secondary role on the scene. Not only had ballet come to be executed during operas it had gained the same respect and standard.

Russia contributed to Ballet almost as much as France had. Many trained dancers in an attempt to escape the deprivation left by the Revolution of Bolshevik, turned to the "Ballet Russes;" the itinerant Ballet Company of Sergei Diaghilev that brought back the passion for Ballet to France and Europe on the eve of the First World War.

Russian performers introduced the myriad innovations nourished by the Czars and came to be of transcendental influence in the growth of the art worldwide, like their developments in the "En Pointe" work.

By then, Ballet had already left the aristocratic circles and cultivated its romantic nature, giving the performance the illusion of bringing to life ethereal creatures with dancers that seemed immune to the forces of gravity, and women had outranked men on this feat and adopted the legendary "tutu."

After its expansion through Europe, it was inevitable that it reached the shores of North America, and it was precisely Fokine, Diaghilev's Pupil, who after an altercation with the latter, moved into America and developed its Ballet with a more profound involvement in the characterization, costume, and historical authenticity.

After remarkable artists like Anna Pavlova hit American grounds, George Balanchine made a groundbreaking innovation on ballet, adapting it to Broadway standards. Nowadays ballet has not only been related to Tap-dance, infiltrated the rock-n-roll industry with musical Jazz and dance music, but set the foundations for the techniques of many other contemporary dances.

Ballet is not only a dance that has managed to endure the hardships of time for more than three centuries; but a highly technical discipline of dance with its own vocabulary. It has managed to keep alive the passion of myriads of performers from the 15th century to our days.