Ana Cristina Arellano
University of Texas at El Paso
Dance structure on rhetorical phenomena
The word Ballet comes from the French language and was appeared in the English language around 1630. The French word in has its origin in Italian balletto, which means a small type of dance. In Italian ballo means to dance, which comes from Latin ballo, or ballare, meaning to dance. This word comes from the Greek ballizo, to dance, or to jump about.That simple word, ballet, that we dancers use daily, sure came a long way into our language! Many people find this interesting trivia because our modern interpretation of what ballet is pertains to one certain type of dance, but the history of ballet is long and complex. Ballet did not come into existence through one person's or even one Dance Company’s ingenuity.
Humans expressed thoughts and emotions through movement long before the development of speech. However, for our purpose, we will begin at the point where dance was relied upon as a form of entertainment. The origins of ballet can be traced back to the Renaissance period and the early court dances in France and Italy. Any celebratory occasion, such as the birth of an heir or an influential marriage would call for social court dancing. All ladies and gentlemen of the court learned these rather intricate dances as part of their grooming for society.
Ballet originated in the Italian Renaissance courts in the 15th century, and was developed further in France and Russia. The early renditions of ballet came before the invention of the theatrical stage that we know of today and were presented in large chambers with most of the audience seated in rows of seats on three sides of the dance floor. Since those days, it has become a technical dance form with its own vocabulary.
In the late 17th century Louis XIV founded the Academie Royale de Musique, the Paris Opera. From within the Paris Opera, emerged the first professional theatrical ballet company, The Paris Opera Ballet. Theatrical ballet soon became an independent form of art, and spread from Europe to other nations. The Royal Danish Ballet and the Imperial Ballet of the Russian Empire, were founded in the 1740s. In 1907 the Russian Ballet moved back to France. Soon ballet spread around the world with the formation of new companies, including London’s Royal Ballet in 1931, The San Francisco Ballet in 1933, The American Ballet Theatre in 1937, The Australian Ballet in1940, The New York City Ballet in 1948, The National Ballet of Canada in 1951. Others were to follow from this point in history.
In the 19th century, Early classical ballets such as Giselle and La Sylphide were created during the Romantic Movement in the first half of the 19th century. This movement influenced art, music and ballet. It was concerned with the supernatural world of spirits and magic and often showed women as passive and fragile. These themes are reflected in the ballets of the time and are called romantic ballets. This is also the period of time when dancing on the tips of the toes, known as pointe work, became the norm for the ballerina. The romantic tutu, a calf-length, full skirt made of tulle, was introduced. The popularity of ballet soared in Russia, and, during the latter half of the 19th century, Russian choreographers and composers took it to new heights. Marius Petipa’s The Nutcracker, The Sleeping Beauty and Swan Lake, by Petipa and Lev Ivanov, represent classical ballet in its grandest form. The main purpose was to display classical technique — pointe work, high extensions, precision of movement and turn-out (the outward rotation of the legs from the hip)—to the fullest. Complicated sequences that show off demanding steps, leaps and turns were choreographed into the story. The classical tutu, much shorter and stiffer than the romantic tutu, was introduced at this time to reveal a ballerina’s legs and the difficulty of her movements and footwork.
According to "A Brief History of Ballet." History of Ballet. Web. 8 Nov. 2014. Following the move of The Russian Ballet back to France, ballet began to have a broader influence, particularly in the United States. From Paris, choreographer Michel Fokine went to Sweden and then the United States and settled in New York City. He believed that traditional ballet offered little more than prettiness and athletic display. For Michel Fokine that was not enough. In addition to technical excellence in ballet steps and choreography, he demanded drama, expression and historical authenticity. He felt that the choreographer must research the period and cultural context of the ballet story and setting and reject the traditional tutu in favor of accurate period costuming of the story being choreographed.
Michel Fokine choreographed Scheherazade and Cleopatra. He also re-choreographed Petrouchka and The Firebird. One of his most famous works was the Dying Swan , performed by Anna Pavlova. Besides her talent as a ballerina, Anna had the theatrical gifts to fulfill Michel Fokine’s vision of ballet as drama. Legend has it that Pavlova identified so much with the swan role, that she requested her swan costume from her deathbed.
Anna Pavlova was a famous Russian prima ballerina and choreographer. The company she founded in 1911 was the first to tour ballet around the world.
Ballerina Anna Pavlova was born Anna Matveyevna Pavlovna Pavlova on February 12, 1881—a cold and snowy winter's day—in St. Petersburg, Russia. Anna's active imagination and love of fantasy drew her to the world of ballet. According to "Anna Pavlova (Russian Ballerina)." Encyclopedia Britannica. Web. 26 Oct. 2012. Looking back on her childhood, Anna Pavlova described her budding passion for ballet accordingly: "I always wanted to dance; from my youngest years...Thus I built castles in the air out of my hopes and dreams." Within just two years, Anna was accepted at the St. Petersburg Imperial Ballet School, after passing the entry exam with flying colors. Famed ballet master Marius Petipa directed the school.
At the Imperial Ballet School, Petipa and Anna's teachers, Ekaterina Vazem and Pavel Gerdt, quickly recognized her extraordinary gift. A dedicated and ambitious student, Anna knew a successful ballet career would require a lot more than just talent.
Thanks to Anna Pavlova, ballet dance became famous in America and here is when it enters some other talented choreographers that made the history of ballet even more interesting and brought variety into it. Like George Balanchine, Martha Graham, and Isadora Duncan.
George Balanchine, born Georgi Melitonovitch Balanchivadze in St. Petersburg, Russia, is regarded as the foremost contemporary choreographer in the world of ballet. He began to choreograph while still in his teens, creating his first work in 1920 or earlier. According to "George Balanchine." NYCB -. Web. 15 June 2010, George Balanchine developed a more modern , up to date style of technique in America by opening a school in Chicago and New York city. He was the choreographer who adapted ballet to the movies and television. George Balanchine re-choreographed Swan Lake and Sleeping Beauty as well as creating new ballets. He produced original interpretations of the dramas of Romeo and Juliet, The Merry Widow and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, all Shakespeare’s dramas. In 1923, he and some of his colleagues formed a small troupe, the Young Ballet, for which he composed several works in an experimental vein, but the authorities disapproved, and the performers were threatened with dismissal if they continued to participate.
Martha Graham’s creativity crossed artistic boundaries and embraced every artistic genre. She collaborated with and commissioned work from the leading visual artists, musicians, and designers of her day. According to "Martha Graham (American Dancer)." Encyclopedia Britannica. Web. 15 Oct. 2010, Graham’s groundbreaking style grew from her experimentation with the elemental movements of contraction and release. By focusing on the basic activities of the human form, she enlivened the body with raw, electric emotion. The sharp, angular, and direct movements of her technique were a dramatic departure from the predominant style of the time. During her long and illustrious career, Graham created 181 masterpiece dance compositions, which continue to challenge and inspire generations of performers and audiences.
Isadora Duncan developed an approach to dance that emphasized naturalistic movement. She was a hit in Europe as a performer to classical music and opened schools that integrated dance with other types of learning. Duncan came to look at ancient rituals around dance, nature and the body as being central to her performance ideology. According to "Isadora Duncan (American Dancer)." Encyclopedia Britannica. Web. 8 May 2012, she embarked on successful tours, becoming a European sensation honored not only by enraptured audiences, but also by fellow artists who captured her image in painting, sculpture and poetry. Duncan's style was controversial for its time, as it defied what she viewed as the constricting conventions of ballet, placing major emphasis on the human female form and free-flowing moves.
Now on day, in the early part of the 20th century, Russian choreographers Sergei Diaghilev and Michel Fokine began to experiment with movement and costume, moving beyond the confines of classical ballet form and story. Diaghilev collaborated with composer Igor Stravinsky on the ballet The Rite of Spring, a work so different —with its dissonant music, its story of human sacrifice and its unfamiliar movements — that it caused the audience to riot. Choreographer and New York City Ballet founder George Balanchine, a Russian who emigrated to America, would change ballet even further. He introduced what is now known as neo-classical ballet, a form that expands the classical form. He also is considered by many to be the greatest innovator of the contemporary “plotless” ballet. With no definite story line, its purpose is to use movement to express the music and to illuminate human emotion and endeavor. Today, ballet is multi-faceted. Classical forms, traditional stories and contemporary choreographic innovations intertwine to produce the character of modern ballet.
As for all this wonderful choreographers, thanks to them, ballet dance became one of the most beautiful and challenging types of dance. I can say that Anna Pavlova was the one to bring ballet to America and Balanchine, Graham, and Duncan, are the ones to start something different by seeing the different ways the body can move and express hem selves. This kind of dance is contemporary and this is not classical or nothing like ballet; however, ballet is the key and has the basics for every kind of dance. What is called contemporary dance actually includes a wide range of dance styles. And last but not least, according to "Ballet History." Contemporary-dance.org. Web. 3 Nov. 2012, most professional contemporary dance companies base their dance techniques in ballet or modern technique, or a combination of the two, and their repertoires are usually reflective of this diversity. Contemporary dance allows choreographers and dancers an even wider range of movement vocabulary for creating and performing work.