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Ballet developed in the 15th century during the Italian Renaissance and then evolved into a distinctive dance form in Russia and France. This is a highly technical form of dance and has been the basis for the development of other genres of dance such as the contemporary dance. Ballet is being taught in dance schools the world over. In every country where it is taught and performed, it has imbibed its distinctive cultural characteristics. Ballets are of two types, classical and modern. They are choreographed and executed by professional ballet dancers. Classical ballet performances require elaborate costumes and staging and is performed with classical music accompaniment. Modern ballet however is performed in leotards and tights without using ornate settings.
Ballet developed greatly under the patronage of King Louis XIV. He in fact founded the Academie Royale de Danse to establish standards and to make it possible for dance instructors to get a certification. The first professional ballet company, namely the Parish Opera Ballet, developed from here. Jean-Baptiste Lully, the director of the Royal Dance Academy, and Pierre Beauchamp, his ballet master, are credited to have created the 5 major feet positions of ballet dancers. Anna Pavlova and Rudolf Nureyev are some of the famous ballet dancers of the 20th century. There are 7 basic movements in ballet dancing namely the plier or to bend, the etendre or to stretch, the relever or to rise, the glisser or to glide or slide, the sauter or to jump, the elancer or to dart, and the tourner or to turn. Learning ballet involves consistent practice and great technique.
Ballet dancing is taught mainly through 6 different methods, that being the French school, the Cecchetti method, the Vaganova method, the Bournonville method, the English method or the Royal Academy of Dance method, and the American style or the Balanchine method. The different types of ballet are the Russian ballet, the Italian ballet, the French ballet, contemporary ballet, neoclassical ballet, classical ballet, Romantic ballet, and so on. All ballet performances are magical and they are exciting. They have the capacity to provoke or disturb you. Story ballets tell popular stories from novels and classic stories such as The Sleeping Beauty. Plotless ballet uses body movements to convey the message.
Ballet dance remains relevant to this day as is proven by the sight of young students flocking to ballet schools to learn this classical form of dance. Technology has made it possible for smaller troupes also to gain exposure and get adequate funding. Ballet companies are moving with the times and reaching out to younger audiences. Ballet performances are now being enjoyed by all lovers of dance thanks to technology and online YouTube and Facebook. The strength of ballet lies in the fact that it has a structured form and therefore will not disintegrate. It speaks a universal language and therefore can travel the globe without any barriers of communication. In today’s fast paced world, going to see a live ballet performance helps you to stop, step back, and reconnect with the world as it really is.