Ballet—The Beginnings • Early Ballet—Baroque: • Grew from the early court dance traditions established by rulers like King Louis XIV in the European Renaissance. • Rulers wanted their dancers to rehearse and demonstrate the utmost in social etiquette. • Dance masters became a necessity. • Dance manuals were created.
Catherine De Medici • Before King Louis XIV (who ruled 1643-1715), she assisted with the beginnings of ballet in France. • In 1533, Catherine married the king of France, Henry II. • She brought with her from Italy a dance master named Balthasar de Beaujoyeaux. • In 1581, he created the Ballet Comique de la Reine(the Queen’s Comic Ballet)—large sets, songs poetry—all performed by nobles of the court. • Catherine was known as a significant patron of the arts.
King Louis XIV: • Continued the French tradition of ballet. • His nickname, “The Sun King,” was given to him after his performance in the role of Apollo in Ballet de la Nuitin 1653. • In 1661, established the Academie Royale de la Danse, a dance academy that aided in the professionalizing of the art of ballet. • Pierre Beauchamp, the king’s ballet master, developed ballet terminology and technique and created five positions for the feet.
Continued… • Ballet moved out of the palace and into the theatre. • The first female dancers to perform professionally in a theater production appeared (in 1681) in a ballet called Le Triomphe de l’Amour(The Triumph of Love).
5 basic ballet positions: • 1st: Heels touching; toes pointed out. Feet make a 90-degree to 180-degree angle, depending on “turn-out” ability. • 2nd: Feet are same position as first, but space between the heels. Ankles in line with pelvic & shoulder bones. • 3rd: From 2nd position, drag either heel to a perpendicular position at the center of opposite foot—making a “T” with your feet.
Positions continued… • 5th: (yes, we’re going out of order)—slide right heel to left toe. With great turnout you would be able to touch your right toe to your left heel and your left toe to your right heel. (very uncomfortable, unless trained!) • 4th: Beginning in fifth position with right foot in front, slide right foot forward about a foot’s length in front of you. Distribute weight over both legs and keep hips vertically parallel to the wall in front of you.
Romantic Ballet—The Transition • Developed over a long period of time. • Dances followed a basic pattern in the early days with very little content or storyline. • The story portions were told mostly through pantomime. • The heavy costumes limited the movement of the dancers.
Jean-Georges Noverre • A choreographer who wrote ballet guidelines in Letters on Dancing and Ballet in 1760. • Seven Basic Movements of Dance: • Plier (plee-AY)—to bend. • Etendre (ay-THAN-druh)—to stretch. • Relever (ruhl-VAY)—to rise. • Sauter (soh-TAY)—to jump. • Tourner (toor-NAY)—to turn. • Glisser (glee-SAY)—to glide. • Elancer (ay-lahn-SAY)—to dart.
Noverre continued… • These terms allowed choreographers to communicate to dancers more effectively. • He believed ballets should: • have logic, • be easily understood by the audience, • and move them emotionally.
Romantic Ballet: • In the late 1700s, the French Revolution brought about a transformation in ballet. • The arts had to play to a more general public audience. • 1st Romantic Ballet to be performed—La Sylphide. • Stories of the supernatural (ghosts, fairies) became popular.
Romantic Ballet continued… • Around the 1820s, ballerinas began to dance on their toes. • Known as sur les pointes or en pointes (on the toes. • In the 1860s, pointe shoes were created to enhance the skill. (Made of layered cloth and glue with a wooden shank.)
Romantic Ballet continued… • Early 1800s—heavy costumes eliminated and changed to costumes made from tulle (a fine net) and other (see-through) materials. • The Romantic tutu was a skirt made of tulle from the female dancer’s waist to just below her knee. • Ballerinas (female dancers) became more popular during this “Golden Age” of ballet. • Favorites: Marie Taglioni and Fanny Essler.
Classical Ballet: • The center of ballet activity shifted from France to Russia. • The Romonov family in Russia wanted to “westernize” their court, so they invited artists from western Europe to perform in Russia.
Marius Petipa (1818-1910) • A ballet dancer at the Imperial Theatre. • Became chief ballet master. • Created 77 works and 37 opera dances. • He developed the tutu (short skirt), so the audiences could view the advances of the females’ technique. • Choreographed ballets such as: • Don Quixote and La Bayadere • The Sleeping Beauty (1890) • The Nutcracker (1892) • Swan Lake (1895)
Modern & Contemporary Ballet • Ballet found new life and regained interest. • The U.S. gained several talented dancers and choreographers.
George Balanchine (1904-1983) • Made ballet less courtly and more athletic. • Demonstrated the influences of modern and jazz dance. • Choreographed Broadway musicals. • Brought glamour to modern ballet with his strong sense of artistic design.
Michael Fokine (1890-1942) • Born in St. Petersburg, Russia. • Wanted dancers to feel the music. • Like Balanchine, he made a place for male dancers on stage. • No longer was a pas-de-deux (dance for two) about supporting the female en pointe. • He wanted a dance for two to be about two performers dancing with each other (creating emotion & feeling for the audience).
Mikhail Baryshnikov • Grew up in Russia and danced at the Vaganova Ballet Academy. • Joined the Kirov Ballet in 1966 • Came to the U.S. in 1974 • Worked with Balanchine and danced for the New York City Ballet. • Danced with the American Ballet theatre from 1974-1979. • Returned in 1980 as artistic director/dancer. • Worked with modern dancer Twyla Tharp. • Became involved with contemporary choreography after retirement, working with Mark Morris and the White Oak Project.