Ballet

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Three ballet dancers performing a grand jeté jump

Ballet is a type of performance dance that originated in the Italian Renaissance courts of the 15th century and later developed into a concert dance form in France and Russia. It has since become a widespread, highly technical form of dance with its own vocabulary based on French terminology. It has been taught in ballet schools around the world, which have historically used their own cultures to evolve the art.

Quotes[edit]

John Berger:Degas was obsessed by the art of classical ballet, because to him it said something about the human condition. He was not a balletomane looking for an alternative world to escape into. Dance offered him a display in which he could find, after much searching, certain human secrets.
  • The ballet embodies the notes of music. And sometimes you almost feel like you can see the notes dance up there on the stage.
  • At the ballet, you really feel like you're in the presence of something outside the rest of your life. Higher than the rest of your life.
Sutton Foster: Ballet is an incredibly difficult, beautiful art form that takes a lot of training, a lot of time, and a lot of hard work.
  • The discipline that ballet requires is obsessive. And only the ones who dedicate their whole lives are able to make it. Your toenails fall off and you peel them away and then you're asked to dance again and keep smiling. I wanted to become a professional ballet dancer.
  • Ballet as we know it today originated in Italy but was brought to France in the late 16th century by Catherine de Medici. The first ballet comique de la reine (dramatic ballet) was performed as an aristocratic wedding at the Parisian Court in 1581. It combined music, dance and poetic recitations (usually in praise of the monarchy) and was performed by male courtiers with women of the court forming the corps de ballet. Louis XIV so enjoyed the spectacles that he danced many leading roles himself at Versailes. In 1661, he founded the Academic Royale de Danse (Royal Dance Academy), from which modern ballet developed.
    • Stephen Fallon, in Paris, Lonely Planet, 15 September 2010, p. 45
  • I think everyone should take ballet classes. I know that not everyone wants to be a dancer, but if you are interested in staying in good shape, physically and mentally, for a long time, you should just take ballet class as often as you can. It's much better than jogging. When you're jogging, your mind is someone else, and you're not even relaxed mentally. When you run, you are just using energy and getting more and more tired. But with ballet, it doesn't matter if your execution is awful. The whole idea is that you are mentally in control. You say, 'All right, leg, developes, All right, now turn.' You are in total control and this is not true of most sports. It gives you a sense of power."
  • I feel his arm
    Lightly
    Over me.
    He takes one of my outstretched hands.
    Draws it beneath my stomach.
    "One more time..."
    This is not sex, Not friendship.
    Something
    Strange Special
    In the stillness of his breath,
    The water like way he moves.
    He is making a dance
    We are making a dance.
    • Stasia Ward Keho, in Audition, Penguin, 13 October 2011, p. 275
I saw a lot of cool choreographing opportunities, but I was nervous about it. Swan Lake is the most difficult thing to portray for a female ballet dancer;...
  • But he had never seen Myrna in practice...never that close up. He had been impressed and a little frightened by the contrast between seeing ballet on stange, where everyone seemed to either glide or mince effortlessly on the tips of their pointes. and seeing it from less than five feet away, with harsh daylight pouring in the floor-to-ceiling windows and no music- only the choreographer rythmically clapping his hands and yelling harsh criticisms. No praise, only criticisms. Their faces ran with sweat. Their leotards were wet with sweat. The room, as large and airy as it way, stank of sweat. Sleek muscles trembled and fluttered on the nervous edge of exhaustion. Corded tendons stood out like insulated cables. Throbbing veins popped out on foreheads and necks. Except for the choreographer's clapping and angry, hectoring shouts, the only sounds were the thrup-thud of ballet dancers on pointe moving across the floor and harsh, agonized panting for breath. Jack had suddenly realized that these dancers were not just earning a living, they were killing themselves. Most of all he remembered their expressions- all that exhausted concentration, all that pain... but transcending the pain, or at least creeping around its edges, he had seen joy. Joy was unmistakably what that look was, and it scared Jack because it had seemed inexplicable.
...mince effortlessly on the tips of their pointes...
  • I'm so fair that I didn't go in the sun as a child. When all my friends were on the beach, I was going to ballet. The teachers there didn't like you going in the sun, so I never did.
  • I love ballet because you can see how beautiful the body is. It's similar to my interest in fashion, except with fashion there are clothes. I think that ballet is very good for the body. It's very similar to yoga, because you have to hold a position. I did a lot of yoga, but now I've stopped yoga and I'm just doing ballet, maybe because I love the music of ballet, the piano. I love piano music, it reminds me of being in the Russian school of ballet, and I love that. I love listening to the piano while I am doing my ballet. If I could choose something besides fashion, I would love to be a ballerina.
  • Being a former dancer, classical dancer, it informed me as a human being just in terms of the grace I guess. Ballet is a very graceful form of art. You also become very aware of your body and your mind and your body is working in conjunction. That kind of helps you in acting as well. It's not only using your mind, it's like making your mind communicate this character into your body so that you can bring it to life and physicalize it.
  • Slashing its way to the finish line, 'Black Swan' is the first ballet movie for highbrow horror fans for whom ballet itself signifies little to nothing. Those of us who know and love ballet can only look on it with a different kind of horror.

A Beginner’s Guide to Ballet[edit]

Karen Kain:...They practice these exercises every day in order to keep their bodies limber and in top performing shape.
Ballerina dancing en pointe -Karen Kain: Developed in the early 19th century, pointe shoes are worn by female dancers to enable them to dance on the tips of their toes.
In the early 1800s, with the development of the pointe shoe and the many stories about fairies and nymphs, the Romantic tutu became popular. This skirt came below the dancers’ knees, and gave them a dreamy, ethereal look, while allowing them to move more freely

Karen Kain A Beginner’s Guide to Ballet, The National Ballet Of Canada

  • Just as you have to learn your ABC’s in order to read and write, dancers have to learn the basic exercises and positions of ballet in order to perform choreography on the stage. They practice these exercises every day in order to keep their bodies limber and in top performing shape.
    • p.4
  • The language of ballet is French. The terminology was originally developed in the court of Louis XIV during the 17th century. Today, wherever in the world a ballet class is given, the names of the steps are given to students in their original French.
    • p.4
  • All ballet exercises begin and end with one of the five basic positions of the feet]. There are also complementary arm positions. The positions are executed with the legs and feet turned out from the hip socket. They allow for greater flexibility, range of movement and also for a beautiful and long line of the body.
    • p. 4
  • Ballet dancers are an elite group of athletes. They train for many years before becoming professional dancers and once they join a company their training does not end. Dancers’ bodies need to be extremely strong and flexible to execute the demanding technique of ballet so they must practice and rehearse every day to keep their bodies in top physical condition. For every minute of dancing you see on the stage, there has been one hour of rehearsal.
    • p.6
  • When dancers rehearse in the studio a pianist plays the music for them. It is usually at the dress rehearsal that the dancers hear the orchestra for the first time. It is also at the dress rehearsal that they have their final opportunity to try on their costumes, work with the props and scenery, and practice the steps on the stage. Everyone’s hard work is rewarded the moment the curtain rises and the ballet begins.
    • p.6
  • Developed in the early 19th century, pointe shoes are worn by female dancers to enable them to dance on the tips of their toes.
    • p.7
  • Male dancers typically do not wear pointe shoes. They wear ballet slippers or special ballet boots that are flexible enough for them to move in.
    • p.7
  • To highlight and accentuate their eyes, cheeks, noses and other features, all dancers, male and female, wear makeup when they are onstage.
    • p.7
  • A tutu is a special kind of skirt worn by dancers in many ballets. When the first ballets were performed in the 15th and 16th centuries, female dancers performed in the courts of royalty wearing floor length gowns with heavy decorations. These cumbersome outfits greatly restricted their movements.
    • p.7
  • In the early 1800s, with the development of the pointe shoe and the many stories about fairies and nymphs, the Romantic tutu became popular. This skirt came below the dancers’ knees, and gave them a dreamy, ethereal look, while allowing them to move more freely.
    • p.7
  • Choreographers and costume designers in the 21st century now choose costumes which best suit the purpose of their ballet. This means that depending on the ballet, you may see a Romantic tutu, a Classical tutu or no tutu at all.
    • P.7
  • In a ballet performance there are typically no words spoken from the stage. The dancers must tell the audience the story (if there is a story) using only their body movements and gestures, which they execute to the accompaniment of music. Often mime is used to relay specific elements of the story.
    • p.8

BALLET 101[edit]

A choreographed contemporary ballet pas de deux
The Sleeping Beauty was the first successful ballet composed by Tchaikovsky. However, it was no more popular than his first ballet, Swan Lake. The production was heavily criticized for being too lavish. Within three years, however, the ballet gained enough popularity to be performed at least 50 times.

Robert Greskovic BALLET 101 The Washington Ballet

  • Ballet has grown in popularity in recent years but, for many, it remains a sometimes mystical world of movements and expressions not understood by any but the most serious Balletomane}.
  • Ballet emerged in the late 15th-century Renaissance court culture of Italy as a dance interpretation of fencing, and further developed in the French court from the time of Louis XIV in the 17th century. This is reflected in the largely French vocabulary of ballet. Despite the great reforms of Noverre in the 18th century, ballet went into decline in France after 1830, though it was continued in Denmark, Italy, and Russia. It was reintroduced to western Europe on the eve of the World War I by a Russian company: the Ballets Russes of vSergei Diaghilev, who came to be influential around the world. Diaghilev's company came to be a destination for many of the Russian trained dancers fleeing the famine and unrest that followed the Bolshevik revolution. These dancers brought many of the choreographic and stylistic innovations that had been flourishing under the czars back to their place of origin.
  • In the 20th century, ballet continued to develop and has had a strong influence on broader concert dance.
  • Ballet dance works (ballets) are choreographed, and also include mime, acting, and are set to music (usually orchestral but occasionally vocal). Later developments include expressionist ballet, and elements of Modern dance.
  • Classical ballet is the most formal of the ballet styles; it adheres to traditional ballet technique.
  • Neoclassical ballet is a ballet style that uses traditional ballet vocabulary but is less rigid than the classical ballet.
  • Contemporary ballet is a form of dance influenced by both classical ballet and modern dance. It takes its technique and use of pointe work from classical ballet, although it permits a greater range of movement that may not adhere to the strict body lines set forth by schools of ballet technique.
  • Tchaikovsky’s first ballet, Swan Lake is considered by many to be one of the greatest classical ballets of all time. Its romance and beauty has allowed the classic ballet to mesmerize audiences for more than 100 years.
  • The Sleeping Beauty was the first successful ballet composed by Tchaikovsky. However, it was no more popular than his first ballet, Swan Lake. The production was heavily criticized for being too lavish. Within three years, however, the ballet gained enough popularity to be performed at least 50 times.
  • Giselle is considered one of the great Romantic ballets, Giselle was first performed in Paris in 1841.
  • The Nutcracker is more than 100 years old and was first presented at the Mayinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia.

External links[edit]

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