The history of ballet began in the Italian Renaissance courts of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. It quickly spread to the French court of Catherine de’ Medici where it was further developed. The creation of classical ballet as it is known today occurred under Louis XIV, who in his youth was an avid dancer and performed in ballets by Pierre Beauchamp and Jean-Baptiste Lully. In 1661 Louis founded the Académie Royale de Danse (Royal Dance Academy) which was charged with establishing standards for the art of dance and the certification of dance instructors. In 1672, following his retirement from the stage, Louis XIV made Lully the director of the Académie Royale de Musique (Paris Opera) in which the first professional ballet company, the Paris Opera Ballet, arose. This origin is reflected in the predominance of French in the vocabulary of ballet. Early ballets preceded the invention of the proscenium stage and were performed in large chambers with the audience seated on tiers or galleries on three sides of the dance floor.
Despite the great reforms of Jean-Georges Noverre in the eighteenth century, ballet went into decline in France after 1830, though it was continued in Denmark, Italy, and Russia. It was reintroduced to western Europe on the eve of the First World War by a Russian company, the Ballets Russes of Sergei Diaghilev, who ultimately influenced ballet around the world. Diaghilev’s company became a destination for many of the Russian-trained dancers fleeing the famine and unrest that followed the Bolshevik revolution. These dancers brought back to their place of origin many of the choreographic and stylistic innovations that had been flourishing under the czars.
In the 20th century, ballet had a strong influence on broader concert dance. For example, in the United States, choreographer George Balanchine developed what is now known as neoclassical ballet. Subsequent developments include contemporary ballet and post-structural ballet, seen in the work of William Forsythe in Germany. Also in the twentieth century, ballet took a turn dividing it[clarification needed] from classical ballet to the introduction of modern dance, leading to modernist movements[clarification needed] in both the United States and Germany.
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