Ballet is a modern art, dancing is prehistoric. The history of ballet is but a fragment of the history of dancing. Ballet can be defined today as a theatrical entertainment of group and solo dancing usually to a musical, vocal or percussion accompaniment, with costumes, scenery, and lighting. CLASSICAL BALLET is movement based on the traditional technique from the French ballet of the 17th and 18th centuries, and the Italian school of the 19th century. Classical ballet was brought to ultimate perfection by such great teachers as Carlo Blasis, C. P. Johansen, Legat and Cecchetti. CLASSICAL STYLE is based on the turn out, the five positions of the feet, pointe work and technique of beats, turns, elevation, and extension. Modern dance originated as a reaction to the rigidity of classical ballet.
The following is a timeline of ballet history from it's beginnings through the formation of the major 20th century companies. Click on the hyperlinks for more detailed information on specific stages in the development of ballet. Especially significant links are bold.
I have tried to give my readers a capsule history of ballet. I have said before that every name mentioned could be a story by itself. I would like to think that maybe I have stimulated some of you to read books on ballet that can go into more detail than I have.
I feel that almost every dancer, choreographer and teacher has left his or her mark. Those of you who are my students now or have been at one time, let it be known that it has taken hundreds of other dancers to have given me my background. I teach you what others have taught me, and I hope that what I give to you will find its way to others.
According to Lincoln Kirstein, " It is difficult for most of us to remember, since the history of ballet in the last three hundred years is so richly documented and so thinly in the three thousand years before." that even in the beginning of time dance has existed in all primitive societies. Humankind danced long before there was music. Dance may have been the reason for music in the first place. Those of you who know how important I think music is to dance might think I would not make such a statement. Early dancers created their own music by stomping on the ground, and later stretching animal skins across their legs and beating them with their hands or a stick.
If it is not my right to change ballet technique, then it is not your right to change the steps I give -- enough said.
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