A Tale of Many Performances: The History of Ballet


               Ballet is a form of dance that has been around for centuries. While people just think of it as dancers in tutus twirling around a stage it wasn’t always like that. The steps were very simple at first and the clothing was basically just formal wear. However, over the course of hundreds of years things happened to change the way it was performed. What follows are some of these events and how they formed the version of ballet that we know.

                Despite what some people believe ballet didn’t began in France but in Italy during the 1400s. Dancers were at first imitating fencing moves but then the movements became more complicated and were set to music. The performers wore masks and costumes which were fancy but made dancing difficult.

                In 1533, an Italian noblewoman named Catherine de’ Medici married the King of France, Henry II. She introduced ballet to his country where it grew in popularity. It was performed during special occasions like weddings and balls. A century later, King Louis XIV (the fourteenth) grew up watching ballet and become a dancer himself. Because of him it became more developed. His teacher; Pierre Beauchamp, created a system called The Five Basic Points of Ballet. The five basic points are positions for the arms and legs when doing dance moves. They are some of the first things a ballet dancer learns. In 1661, Academie Royale de Danse; the very first ballet academy, opened in Paris, France thanks to King Louis XIV.

As the dance form spread it began to change. The focus was put more and more on the female dancers, with them even playing the male roles. Ballerinas began to experiment with dancing on pointe (on tip toes) in the early 1820s. The dancer Marie Tagioni is believed to be the first dancer to perform on pointe. In 1832, La Slyphide was created to show her skill with this kind of dancing. Afterwards, dancing on pointe became much more popular. The tutu was also created in the 19th century. Its short length was for showing off a dancer’s leg and footwork.

                By 1850, Russia became a major center of the dance world. The dancers and other figures from the country would help the dance form. In America, ballet grew in popularity during the 1930s when Russian dancers left their company and entered the U.S. One of them, George Balanchine established the New York City Ballet. Another one, Adolph Bolm, became the first director of the San Francisco Ballet School.

                Ballet started out as an informal type of dance where everyone could join in but over time it became much more sophisticated. As it did so it developed in to an art, one made with the motions of the body. Now, ballet is considered a major part of many cultures. With new generations of dancers joining in it can be sure that the show, and the ones after it, will go on.


                May Slippers and Tutus’ customers have many successful performances in the future.





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