The Origins Of Ballet

A brief history

My friends often ask me who invented ballet. I already wrote some posts about it and just found this amazing TED-Ed video on youtube.

The origins of ballet – Jennifer Tortorello and Adrienne Westwood, 07.03.2016 by TED-Ed
View full lesson:… Can you imagine a party where every movement and every visual detail were governed by a complex system of rules and procedures? For centuries, such rituals were commonplace for European nobility. And while they’ve gone out of fashion, we recognize the components under a familiar label: ballet. Jennifer Tortorello and Adrienne Westwood outline the history of this graceful and precise dance.
Lesson by Jennifer Tortorello and Adrienne Westwood, animation by Moran Barak Studio.

People have been dancing for as long as there have been people. But where does classical ballet come from?

As early as the 15th century, courtly dances were presented on festive occasions in Italy and France. One of the first ballet performances ever mentioned historically comes from Italy: in 1499 on the occasion of the wedding of the Duke of Milan. The Florentine princess Catherine de Medici brought the ballet to the French court through her marriage to Henry II in 1533.

The first ballet score

The first ballet whose score still survives is called „Le Ballet comiqué de la Reine“ and was danced at the French court in 1581 exclusively by men wearing masks and long costumes.

The King who danced

The King Who Invented Ballet: Louis XIV and the Noble Art of Dance (BBC Documentary), 28.04.2019

But it was Louis XIV, the famous French Sun King, who first turned ballet into an art form. He himself was an enthusiastic, gifted dancer and founded the first royal dance academy for professional dancers, the „Académie Royale de Dance,“ in 1661 and the first ballet company, the Ballet de L’Opera de Paris, in 1669.

The director and teacher of this academy, Pierre Beauchamp, is considered the inventor of the 5 classical ballet positions that are still taught today. Thus, France is considered the country of origin of ballet and this explains why most ballet terms are in French.

Women dance

Slowly ballet evolved, the steps became more complicated. When in 1681 women were also allowed to dance, the movements became more refined. The time of ballerinas begins. This is therefore the beginning of classical ballet. However, it is always „only“ ballet interludes in operas or plays.

The first story ballet

The first independent ballet was created only in the second half of the 18th century. The Parisian Jean Georges Noverre promoted the dramatic action ballet and created the ballet „Medea and Jason“ in 1763.

The first prima ballerina on pointe

dancing on Ponte, however, came later. Marie Taglioni was the first prima ballerina to dance the still popular ballet „La Sylphide“ at the Paris Opera in 1832.

Primaballerina Marie Taglioni

See Header Image
The King who invented ballet, BBC Four, The Arts Desk ©

Autor: ballettlovers

I danced ballet as child, albeit with little success. Despite this, my passion for ballet and dance has carried into adulthood. I still love to watch ballet performances and would love to share my passion with you.

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