Ballet Goes Way Back | God's World News

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Ballet Goes Way Back
Jet Balloon
Posted: March 01, 2017

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Sometimes it seems like surely ballet began in France. After all, ballet vocabulary is very French. Try these: “cou-de-pied, sur le,” a leg position, “barre,” a wooden practice rail, and “etoile,” a star of the show. But actually, ballet began during the years of the Italian Renaissance (a time of art and learning).

1400s—Ballet began during the Italian Renaissance (a time of art and learning) with elaborate dances performed to music held at royal events and weddings. Noblemen and women joined in.

1500s—Catherine de Medici, wife of King Henry II of France, provided money to put on programs that combined decoration, costume, song, music, poetry, and dance.

1600s—France’s King Louis XIV often took the stage to dance. He began the Paris Opera Ballet. Louis’s dance teacher, Pierre Beauchamp came up with the idea of “turnout,” now known as the five classical positions.

1700s—Early dancewear was long and ornate, with layered costumes, headdresses, ornaments, and even masks. A French dancer known as La Camargo led the trend of wearing slippers instead of heeled shoes, and a shorter skirt that helped show fancy footwork.

1800s—The “romantic tutu,” a long, flowing skirt, became shorter and stiffer, eventually becoming the “classic tutu,” sticking straight out to show off the legwork of dancers. Marie Taglioni made dancing en pointe in the 1830s. Dancing on tiptoes requires the use of pointe shoes with a cushioned toe box and flat front.

These three famous ballets created in the 1800s are all still regularly performed around the world today: The Nutcracker, The Sleeping Beauty, and Swan Lake.

1900s—Until the mid-1900s, Americans didn’t show much interest in ballet. Two renowned Russian dancers helped make ballet popular in the U.S. But they first had to escape the communist Soviet Union. Rudolph Nureyev (1961), and then Mikhail Baryshnikov (1974) defected—broke Soviet Union law by refusing to return and live under communism.

What will the 21st century bring to ballet? Will it be pleasing to us and to God?

. . . if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. —Philippians 4:8