Sunday, November 13, 2016
The roots of ballet started in the 15th century in the Italian Renaissance courts2. The term ballet comes from the Italian word, ballare, which means to dance. Over the next 100 years, the ballet vocabulary gradually transitioned into French when Catherine de Medici of Italy married the French King Henry II1.
Catherine de Medici began to fund ballet dancing in the French court. She put on elaborate festivals that encouraged the growth of ballet2. At first ballet dancers wore layers of clothing, masks, headdresses and shoes that had a small heel to look formal. This type of clothing made it hard for the dancers to move and made ballet dancing made up of curtsies, small hops and promenades1.
By 1850 ballet dancing continued to evolve and Russia had become the leading creator of ballet dancing1. As the dancing was evolving the clothing was changing also. Ballet dancers began to wear a “romantic tutu2”. A romantic tutu was a calf length skirt, fully made of tulle. This was also the time that ballet dancers started to dance on their toes, which is known as “en pointe1”. Pointe was reserved for females only1.
The popularity of ballet was soaring in Russia and choreography was taken to new levels with the productions of The Nutcracker and Swan Lake. At this time, the ballet we know of today was introduced. This new found ballet dance had the purpose of showing off extensions, pointe work and complicated sequences. This is also when the tutu was shortened and pointe shoes were introduced2.
Pointe shoes are ballet shoes with a wood block in the toe to allow the dancer to balance. There are also other types of ballet shoes so you can practice not en pointe. They are a pale pink, canvas or leather, shoe that hugs the foot, similar to a sock. These shoes, allow for turning and the technique expressed by ballet dancing.
Ballet is danced to classical music with mainly only instrumental and no lyrics. Ballet dancing is still transforming but not as much as other types of dance.
1Nedvigin, G. (n.d.). A Brief History of Ballet. Retrieved October 27, 2016, from http://www.atlantaballet.com/resources/brief-history-of-ballet
2Nucci, E. A. (n.d.). A Brief History of Ballet. Retrieved October 27, 2016, from http://www.pbt.org/community-engagement/brief-history-ballet