When did the dancing begin

Sports history ballet

The origins of ballet are in the 15th and 16th centuries. At that time, dance games and performances were held at the courts of Italian and French princes. At that time dances were dramatic acts depicted. This changed fundamentally under the French King Louis XIV, the Sun King. The king was a great art lover and cultivated dance, poetry and fencing at his court. He expected his court to behave and move accordingly. He himself also played theater regularly and liked to dance. Up until then, dancing at court was generally reserved for men who wore masks and costumes.

Together with the actor and poet Moliere and the composer Jean-Baptiste Lully, he ensured that the dance was integrated into the drama and used as a means of telling stories. In 1661 the Sun King founded the “Academie Royal de Dance”, the first ballet academy. The director and teacher was Pierre Beauchamp, who also developed the five basic positions that still apply today. He is considered the founder of the French style. He also directed the "Ballet d`Opera de Paris", the ballet ensemble of the Paris Opera, founded in 1669. If the heels were comparatively high at the beginning, they became flatter over time as the difficulty of the steps increased.

At the age of 32, Louis XIV stopped dancing. And with it the nobility at court. At the same time ballet spilled into the population and the first ballet schools were founded. As a result, more and more girls took ballet lessons. As a consequence, there were more and more professional dancers. The women had discovered ballet for themselves.

In 1671 the raised stage was invented. As a consequence, there was not only a clearer separation between dancers and audience, but also a professionalization of the dance. There was now only one dance direction and more attention was paid to how the dance should look from the front. The technique became more precise to better highlight the dancers' poses.

At the beginning of the 18th century, ballet dancing became its own art form with its own rules and techniques. Above all, the first steps in a ballet were recorded in writing. One of the pioneers was the Frenchman Raoul-Auger Feuillet, who recorded the sequence of a baroque ballet and thus invented the first dance script. This allowed the pieces to be danced around the world. The first recordings were initially only made for male dancers, but that soon changed.

Because it was recognized that women embody an ideal that still applies in ballet today: grace and grace. As a result, women increasingly took on the most important roles in one piece. It was the French prima ballerina at the Paris Opera, Francoise Prevost, who played a key role in shaping classical ballet technique. In the course of this, the clothing was also adjusted. So that the dancers could move better and perform the jumps more precisely, skirts and underwear were shortened and the shoes became softer. The slippers later developed from these.

Some dancers danced more and more naturally and with more realistic expressions, which meant that the clothes were not only lighter and more airy. The technology itself was also increasingly changing. The steps and poses became more and more a light, rather airy dance with running steps and jumps.

Towards the end of the 18th century, the French dancer and choreographer Jean-George Noverre had a decisive influence on ballet: a ballet performance should primarily tell a dramatic story. All steps danced should be part of this story. This also included having the right feeling at the right moment. As a result, musicians, choreographers and musicians now worked together. In order for the audience to understand the plot, a "program note" was distributed in advance with the plot. To this day, programs are usually distributed.

A short time later, the masks also disappeared from the performances, the faces of the dancers and their facial expressions could now be seen. Not all choreographers shared Noverre's views, but most of them caught on.

After the French Revolution and the beginning of Romanticism towards the end of the 18th century, women dominated the ballet scene. With the introduction of the top dance, the dance seemed much lighter and more dreamy. Formative elements of romanticism such as mysticism and the supernatural were also adopted in the ballet pieces. The Italian Marie Tagelioni was the first woman to wear pointe shoes. She embodied the romantic ideal of beauty that is still valid in ballet today: beautiful, delicate, soft, flowing movements. She also danced at the court of the Russian tsar. In the 19th century, Italy was the leading country in terms of the technical development of ballet, Italian dancers and choreographers were formative. During the Romantic era, the so-called character dance also became very popular, folk dances from different countries conquered the stage.

In the second half of the 19th century, development in Europe stagnated. The famous dancers were getting old and there were no offspring. The ballet scene migrated to Russia, where classical ballet was very popular and the pay was good. Ballet flourished there, during which the Russian Pyotr Illitsch Tchaikovsky wrote Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty and the Nutcracker. During this time, the Franco-Russian ballet dancer Marius Petipa combined Italian, French and Russian influences and thus formed the classical ballet as we know it today. In 1847 he moved to St. Petersburg, Russia, and celebrated his greatest successes with the ballet troupe of the Marjinsky Theater. In addition to the Marjinsky Theater, the now legendary Bolshoi Theater ensemble with 155 dancers was one of the largest ballet ensembles in the world. Both ballet ensembles owe their existence to Catherine the Great, the then regent of Russia. In contrast to the French style, which was influenced by Romanticism, the Russian style is still much more realistic today and dominated more by power and dynamism with an absolutely precise technique.

The Russian dancer Michel Fokine recognized early on that classical Russian ballet with its strict tradition was stagnating and began to experiment with new movements and choreographies at the beginning of the 20th century. He tried this out in individual events far away from the classical stages and shortly afterwards was hired as a choreographer for the newly founded, modern ensemble “Ballet Russes”. The performances with which the ensemble appeared abroad were more like a dramatic-abstract stage dance. The dance itself was characterized by free movements of the arms and upper body. Pointe shoes were abolished and people danced barefoot instead. Instead of tutus, the dancers now wore individual costumes.

Another significant further development of the Russian system was initiated by the Russian dancer and later ballet director Agripina Vaganova. She analyzed the international ballet culture, changed the ballet methodology and created her own system named after her, which still shapes the so-called Leningrad School and classical ballet education to this day. Numerous famous dancers have been trained under her leadership.

Since the mid-1950s, Russian ballet has also found its home on the western stages and still forms the counterpoint to modern dance theater to this day. Today there are a total of four training methods in classical ballet, each of which builds up the technique differently and also partially carries out the steps differently: the Checchetti method (Italy), the English method, the Waganova method (Russia) and the Balanchine method (USA ).

Status: June 5th, 2020, 5:28 pm