Many people who are in the career of dance started when they were young, spending hours upon hours perfecting the skills and techniques of ballet, while others started a little later in their lives. Ballet is a form that takes more than just blood, sweat, and tears to master. Those who goes into this profession give up most of their free time, due to the fact they are always working to perfect the dance and the various techniques that they are given.
Even though those who are in ballet have very little time to themselves,many believe it is very rewarding in all the knowledge and information that they gained and received from all the practice and discipline. Ballet is an activity that has been around for a very long time. With that being said, the history behind it extends in many ways and forms and because of this ballet has had a hand in developing many or influencing different dances. During its extensive time, ballet has evolved and has inspired the multitude of dance forms that are seen today. Ballet has been around for so long that trying to define what it is or mean would take longer than imaginable. Yet for the sake of just general knowledge, Oxford English Dictionary defines ballet as “ a dramatic entertainment consisting of dance and mime performed to music” (Oxford English Dictionary).
History of Ballet
The idea or art of ballet has been around longer than Louis XIV(Pruiksma). The art of this dance has dated back to around 16th century Europe, including but not restricted to places like Italy, France, Great Britain, and Denmark, just to name a few. As seen in today’s society, ballet is mainly an art that is dominated by women, yet that is not where it started off as. During the 16th century, ballet was a sport for the noble men of the court. It stayed like that for a long time, because back then women’s rights were limited to none, thus restricting them from participating in the sport. It was not until 1654, that Louis XIV allowed women to be considered or offered a role dancing with their counterpart, usually a male (Pruiksma). With this major change in ballet history, more and more noble women, ladies, and even crossed dressed males started to fill the female roles that were portrayed in the dance. Now with all the changes that were taking place with ballet, the form itself also changed. Ballet started to become more diversified, in relations of gender.
Now, when you say ballet, the question of which type comes to play. Ballet is now a broader name for multiply specific types of ballet. They consist but are not restricted to classical ballet, neoclassical ballet, romantic ballet, and the french method. Over the many years ballet has increased in popularity giving another way to express feelings and emotion. With it being around for so long, various forms of this art has evolved and drifted into slightly different dances. Not only different version of ballet now exist, but also various techniques from ballet has been pulled and used in other dances like jazz, contemporary or modern dance, tap, latin dance and so many more. They all follow the same rules, give or take a few of them. They all share vital elements from ballet.
Classical ballet covers a wide range of dance descending straight from ballet. These types of ballet forms are pointe and neoclassical. Pointe ballet, is where the dancer is dancing on the very tip of the foot. Meaning all of the weight, while on pointe, is directly applied on the big toe and the one next to it. Sometimes, the dancer’s foot is made different where the longest toe could be in the middle of the foot. Yet, regardless, all the weight is applied to only a few toes during the majority of the performance when on point. This gives the dancers a more tapered angled look.
Contemporary dance is a free expressive style of dance developed in the early 20th century as a counter to classical ballet (“Modern Dance). So basically, modern dance is a more laid back form of ballet, or one with less restrictions. Modern dance uses every part of the body that one can use during dance, while ballet is mainly focused on the arm and legs. While ballet can be flowy and straight, contemporary can be anything from flowly to very choppy. Contemporary is almost like a jazz dancers take on ballet, which still follows many of the same rules, yet is very different from the traditional form of ballet. This can be seen as the more free and open version of ballet.
Ballet Clothing and Fashion
Over time, the art of ballet have become so prominent that even our fashion has taken a turn towards the idea of ballet clothing. Just to give examples of what I am talking about, clothing pieces like the long tulle skirts, bodycon leotards, and the ballet flats shoes all have some type of connection to the attire of a ballerina. The tulle skirts or tutus in ballet are used to present the body beautifully, but mainly to showcase the technique and form of the dancer.
During the late 1800’s, longer tutus were used to spotlight the feet of the dancer (The Children’s Museum). The skirts that were once only worn for dance purposes, have made its way into the world of fashion. These skirts are now used at statements pieces for an outfit. Many famous designers like Michael Kors, have made at least a version of the tulle skirt either by itself, or part of some sort of assemble. Same goes to ballet flats. Ballets flats are still the most important thing a pointe dancer must have to perform. Receiving a pointe shoe is a sacred ritual, that no just anyone could do. Obtaining a pair of pointe shoes takes years of dance, muscle development in the foot, and so many other things before even thinking about trying a pair on. But now, if you want the look that a ballet flat has, then the ballet flat shoe is for you. These shoes gives the look, sleekness, and elegance that a ballet flat has all without the function of a typical actual ballet flat.
Another piece of ballet clothing that has become a huge trend are the bodycon leotards. These leotards can and are worn with almost any piece of clothing. The are mainly used as a subsitatue shirt. Yet before these bodycon leotards were officially introduced to the public, the were used in ballet as their official dance attire. These would usually be paired with socking, tutus or pants, and sometime legs warmers for the rehearsal that they may have. With ballet being around for so long, different parts of this art has started to rub off on society, changing it as seen in today. Many people do not know much about ballet, yet it has shaped the world around them tremendously. Ballet has been around for so long, lending a hand in very common things in society like a new sense of fashion, technique, and discipline. Ballet has given the world the discipline and structure to many of the things that we do today. Ballet is not just a form of dancing, but a way of life for some people. Baller helped shape the world as we know it, without even trying.