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Most people have some idea of what ballet is. In fact, most community centers and physical education programs offer ballet in their repertoire of dance classes. The tutus, tights, and pastel colors are often seen as sweet, but truth beneath ballet is much more complex. It is a fundamental type of dance, because it is deceptively technical. The skill, muscle, flexibility, and attention to detail required to make ballet look effortlessly emotive is something hardly seen beyond the professionals.
Where did this high technical and highly emotive art form start? Ballet is rumored to have been around since the Italian Renaissance in the 15th century, where artistic dance was celebrated in the courts. This explains why the Italian word for ballet, “ballare,” means simply “to dance.” When ballet was brought to France in the 17th century and Russia in the 18th century, the art of ballet developed in its artistic and technical refinement. This is why today, ballet is known for displaying an incredible range of emotion, pulling on viewers’ heartstrings. In every aspect of ballet, its European ties shine through. For example, most ballet is set to classical music, a genre pioneered and popularized by European composers.
Fast forwarding to modern day, the ballet you see on stage today has detached itself from certain traditions. For example, traditional, classical ballet involved elaborate costumes. They consisted of layers upon layers of costume, with intricate masks, weighty headdresses, and tiny heeled shoes. Although ballet remains devoted to visual appeal, the costumes have become more practical. Even in professional products, specially designed costumes can accommodate sliding, hopping, turning, curtsying, and other necessary maneuvers. Perhaps one of the biggest costume changes is with the shoes; today, everyone can recognize the delicate sheen of a lightweight ballet slipper.
When you go to see a ballet, keep in mind the types of ballets available: story ballets, plotless ballets, classical ballets, neo-classical ballets, and contemporary ballets. Story ballets are a great option for those who are a little reluctant but intrigued. With a story being the focal point, viewers who are new to this art and unaware of technique can be guided by plot. Story ballets often feature classical techniques, so you will still get to experience the ethereal, graceful aesthetic most commonly associated with ballet. Think of productions such as The Sleeping Beauty and The Nutcracker.
Everyone should experience a ballet at some point in their lives. It is a formal, artful affair like no other. Some of the most popular ballets of all time include Spartacus, Swan Lake, Giselle, The Nutcracker, The Sleeping Beauty, Romeo & Juliet, Don Quixote, Coppelia, Firebird, Carmen, Anna Kerenina, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, La Bayadere, and Cinderella. From mainstream adaptions to foreign favorites, there is a ballet for everyone. Book your tickets today.