A Brief History of Ballet

10:58 PM

And when I say brief, I mean BRIEF. I wrote this as a school assignment in 2006.

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Around 1400 A.D. court ballet was invented in Italy to be preformed in the royal courts for kings, queens, and nobles to enjoy. Court Ballet united the arts, representing painting, poetry, music, and sometimes food. For instance, the play and story, “The Golden Fleece”, was once done as a two act ballet, and the food given during the intermission was roast lamb. Ballet further developed in France around 1580, though it usually had a minimum plot and focused on music, costumes, scenery and entertainment more than a story. In 1643-1715, Comdie Ballet was common and consisted of dance alternated with spoken scenes.

During Early Professional Ballet, all dancers were men. Because women did not start dancing until later, men in masks played women’s roles. Costumes consisted of masks, headdresses, wigs and heeled shoes, and a skirt called a tonnelet, a knee length hoopskirt. In 1681 when women started dancing, they wore hoopskirts with material draped as full as possible. However, there were some rebels who chose different costumes. Marie Camargo shortened her skirts and adopted slippers with shorter heels to show off her footwork. Marie Salle used Greek robes for her own ballet. Anne Heinel performed the first double pirouette.

Another big thing that was different was their toe dancing, or pointe work. Dancers would darn the toe of their satin slippers with strong tough thread, because block toed shoes had not been invented yet. However, dancers only stood on pointe for a moment or two.

Women dominated the Romantic Period. In fact, men were so scarce that male roles, like in Coppelia, were often done by women in masks. Costumes changed too. Tutus were made for La Sylphide, which was created for Marie Taglioni by her father. The same style tutus were eventually used in the ballet’s successor, Giselle.

During the 20th century ballet period, Anna Pavlova  formed her own company and toured internationally. Also, modern dance began to develop in 1920. Modern styles consist of tap, jazz, hip-hop, disco, and other styles consisting of whole body movement.

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  1. yay I used it for a 4H project, but only one judge will see it!


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