Ballet, as we know it today, originated in France whre Louis XIV (himself an accomplished ballet dancer) founded the Royal Academy of dancing in 1661.
Beauchamp, Ballet Master to the King, codified the steps and movements in use in that day and set the
rules, including the five positions of the feet, which still govern ballet
Jean Georges Noverre, the great eighteenth-century ballet master and
reformer, brought in the use of anatomical principles in technical training.
The French school has always stressed charm and
elegance, however, rather than technical virtuosity. The influence of the French school spread throughout Europe and underlies all ballet
It was founded by Carlo Blasis,
an Italian who had studied under French masters.
Blasis recodified all that was known of ballet technique to his day
A student of anatomy, he extended the
use of anatomical principles in developing the body into a dance
instrument, making possible the dance achievement of greater technical
dexterity. In so doing, he brought the Italian school to great
He designed the format of the ballet
class which is still used today in ballet training all over the world.
The school reached its peak on Enrico Cecchetti, a pupil of Giovanni
Lepri who had been a student of Blasis.
Historically, the ballet academy of
Russia dates from 1938. Credit for the artistic development and growth
of the school begins with the Frenchman, Charles LePicq, who first
came to Russia in 1786 as premier danseur. Later as chief ballet
master and choreographer, this pupil of Noverre, following the
precepts of his master, did much to develop the native talent. In 1801
Charles Didelot began a long tenure as choreographer for the Imperial
Ballet. He is credited as being the father of the present Russian
school, setting up the system of teaching which still underlies
Russian training. In 1860 Christian Johannsen began a reign as chief
teacher of the Imperial school which lasted for nearly a half century.
LePicq had been a pupil of Noverre; Didelot a pupil of Dauberval (himself
a pupil of Noverre), Auguste Vestris, and Noverre; Johannsen carried
on the same tradition, being a pupil of Auguste Bournonville who had
been a pupil of Vestris and other famous French teachers, including
his own father who had been a pupil of Noverre.
The Russian school was founded on the French which stressed grace,
charm, and elegance. However, in 1885 the guest appearance in Russia
of Virginia Zucchi, a pupil of Carlo Blasis in Italy, created such a
stir because of the technical virtuosity displayed by the dancer that
the Russian dancers hastened to emulate her training. The subsequent
appearance in 1887 of other brilliant Italian dancers such as Enrico
Cecchetti (a pupil of Lepri who had been a pupil of of Blasis)
intensified the drive for more strength, vigor and brilliance of
technique. Nicolas Legat in his book The Story of the Russian School
says of the training and style which have come to know as "the
Russian School": "The secret of the development of Russian
dancing lay in the fact that we learnt from everybody and adapted what
we learnt to ourselves. We copied, borrowed from, and emulated every
source that gave us inspiration, and then, working from our acquired
knowledge and lending it the stamp of the Russian national genius, we
molded it into the eclectic art of the Russian ballet…it was our
refusal to sacrifice aesthetics to effect, combined with our success
in adopting and adapting Italian technique that enabled us in the
generation that followed the arrival of the Italians in Russia to
produce the greatest dancers of the past four decades."
The method of training today is Russia remains based on these
eternally true principles revitalized by Agrippina Vaganova.
- A specialized form of theatrical dance having its own
technique, movements, traditions, and vocabulary.
- A form of theatrical spectacle, combining and fusing ballet
dancing, symphonic music, theatrical
scenery, costumes and lightning. The ballet may be a ballet d'action, a
ballet, that tells a dramatic
story, tragic or comic, or it may be an abstract or storyless ballet that presents an idea.
Literally, white ballet. A ballet (spectacle)
in the romantic style deriving from the nineteenth century and often
considered the pure classical form of ballet. The costume is the traditional
long white ballet skirt.
Literally, classical ballet.
- A style of ballet in which the traditional academic technical form and line are stressed and the
emotional content is restricted.
- A ballet spectacle from traditional
repertoire; e.g., Swan Lake. (Although Swan Lake is romantic ballet, it is considered part of the classical repertoire.)
- A style of ballet in which the academic technical form and line are used poetically to make
movement flowing and emotional.
- A ballet spectacle that tells a story, such as a fairy
tale, involving the supernatural.
Literally, comical dance. The term actually refers to popular
dance, or dance of the people, rather than comical dance.
A term of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries for what we now call
danse de caractère. (character dancing)
Danse de Caractère
Literally, dance of character or character dancing.
- The generic term for all theater dance founded on folk or national
- A dance based on the movements associatiated with a particular
profession, trade, occupation, type of personality, etc.; for example, shoemaker's
dance, shepherd's dance, gossip's dance.
Danse de Demi-Caractère
Literally, semicharacter dancing. The generic term applied to dances of a special
character, of having characteristics of national styles of movement, but which,
however, are based on the technique of the classical ballet. Two examples are: the swans in the ballet Swan Lake, and the peasants in the ballet
Literally, noble dance- The purely classic style of
ballet, the characteristics of which are nobility, elegance, grace, majesty,
poise, and the like. An example is the grand pas de deux in The Sleeping Beauty.
Literally, noble dancer.
A male dancer who excels in the noble style of
First male dancer.
A principal male dancer in a ballet
First female dander.
A principal female dancer in a ballet
An Italian word for "female dancer"
(French, ballerine): usually used to denote the principal female dancer.
Prima ballerina is the term for the first principal female dancer of a ballet
Literally, body of the ballet. The group of dancers that comprise the mass of the ballet company.
Its members dance as a group and form the background for the soloists.
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