The name “ballet” comes from the Italian word “ballare,” which means “to dance.” It is a beautiful but very physically demanding dance form. You may have enjoyed these elegant performances by a masterful ballet dance group near me or somewhere in another country.
“Hips Don’t Lie” is a well-known dance company that has included this style in its offers. As any reputable ballet dance company, we offer different types of ballet to our supporters. Our talented dancers are happy to present elegant, eye-catching dance acts for hire for your special events and celebrations in this and many other dance styles. Our dance teachers can provide you with the basic skills for dancing classical and modern ballet pieces. Enjoy this magical and touchy style with us.
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What Is Ballet Dance?
Ballet dance is one of the oldest dance forms that has preserved its popularity. It appeared in Italy in the fifteenth century and has gone down a long road of development since then. It is a widespread and technical form of dancing with its own specific features and vocabulary.
The style has influenced the foundation techniques of many other dance forms and genres. Various trends and schools have appeared around the world to evolve the ballet dancing meaning in their own way.
Ballet combines choreography and music in an elaborate and sophisticated way. A ballet dance troupe can be valued if its performances are choreographed and produced by well-trained and experienced masters. Traditionally, they use classical music accompaniment, perfectly designed costumes, and complex staging. However, more modern ballet forms can be staged without that sophisticated scenery and in simple costumes.
Ballets can be storytelling and plotless. Story ballets incorporate narration, reveal characters and have a beginning and an end. Such ballet dance examples are the famous Nutcracker and Sleeping Beauty. They were composed in the 19th century but enjoy popularity nowadays. Many classic stories, like The Great Gatsby, have also become ballets.
Plotless varieties do not tell a story. Their choreography and movements are used to interpret music and provoke emotions. The most prominent creator of plotless ballets was the choreographer George Balanchine.
History of the Style and Prominent Ballet Dancers
The ballet dancing history is rich in events and stages. The style appeared during the Italian Renaissance in Italy in the fifteenth century, and Catherine de Medici brought it to France when she married the King Henry II of France. She established a ballet program at the French Court, and only noble amateurs could perform the dance. They wore delicate and highly ornamented costumes that restricted their movements.
The performances of these improvised ballet dance groups were staged in large royal chambers with viewers on the three sides. In 1618, the proscenium arch was introduced. It helped distance performers from the audience, and the latter could enjoy the technical feats and entire performances more easily.
The seventeenth century brought the peak of ballet development at the French Royal Court. King Louis XIV founded the Academie Royale de Danse in 1661. That ballet school did a lot to popularize ballet as an art form all over Europe. In 1671, the Paris Opera Ballet was established under Jean-Baptiste Lully and choreographed by Pierre Beauchamp, who became the main royal ballet master.
Now, a female ballet dancer was called a ballerina. The first ballerinas appeared on the stage in 1681. They were professional dancers, well-trained in the Academie. Under Pierre Beauchamp, the five major positions of feet were developed, too.
The mid-nineteenth century faced a decline in French ballet. It started losing its immense popularity. However, professional ballet dance teams appeared in Russia, Italy, and Denmark, and ballet continued to develop. It became more romantic, with ballerinas' soft and fluid movements, for example, featured in Swan Lake and other Russian ballets. Ballerinas started using tulle skirts known as tutus and dancing in pointe shoes on their tiptoes.
The Russian dance ballet troupe known as the Ballets Russes under Sergei Diaghilev arrived in Europe before WWI and evoked a new interest in ballet. The modern era of this style started.
In the twentieth century, ballet became a mainstream dance. It spread to other countries in Europe and overseas. The Royal Ballet in England and the American Ballet Theater in New York were founded at that time. The art became more accessible to a wide public.
Many ballet schools and companies also used to train young dancers to become true professionals. Due to that, many world-famous dancers emerged in the twentieth century, such as Anna Pavlova, Galina Ulanova, Margot Fonteyn, Susanne Farrell, Rudolf Nureyev, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Maya Plisetskaya, Rosella Hightower, Jeanne Devereaux, Erik Bruhn, Maria Tall Chief, Natalia Makarova, Gelsey Kirkland, Arthur Mitchell, and many others. Jeanne Devereaux was a prima ballerina for three decades and is known for her world record of performing 16 triple fouettes in a row.
Four Types of Ballet Dance
Over time, ballet dance has evolved into many subgenres and stylistic variations. Classical variations belong to definite countries, such as Russia, France, or Italy. More modern subgenres that emerged from a specific local ballet dance group involve classical and new techniques, such as contemporary or neo-classical styles. Romantic is the most widely known and performed substyle. Therefore, this art form has four substyles altogether - classical, neoclassical, contemporary, and romantic. Let’s discuss each of them in detail. Or you can visit “Hips Don’t Lie” and see everything with your own eyes.
When you hear the word “ballet,” you first imagine classical ballet. The era of flourishing for this style came in the 19th century due to Russian choreographers Lev Ivanov and Marius Petipa. The style is characterized by graceful movements, pointe work, symmetry and balance, storytelling and the emphasis on the narrative, and sophisticated scenery and costumes.
An orchestra accompanies the performance, and a prima ballerina anchors the story. Her movements are light and flowing, all the lines extended, and outward leg rotation is one of the main elements. The set complements the narrative, and the dancers’ costumes are intricate and catchy.
Certain classical elements and routines are associated with specific training schools and methods named after their developers. Some of them, such as the Royal Academy of Dance method, were created by a group of dancers. Nowadays, this method is internationally recognized as the English style. Sleeping Beauty or the Nutcracker exemplifies classical style and its intrinsic choreography.
This substyle is more abstract. It does not have any structured plot and is performed without specific scenery or costumes. Music is also neoclassical, for example, Roussel or Stravinsky. Some scholars argue that George Balanchine’s “Apollo” of 1928 was the first neoclassical ballet ever performed. Another choreographer of this ballet was Martha Graham, a famous modern dancer who brought her colleagues, such as Paul Taylor, into Balanchine’s company.
There were also other choreographers and dancers who contributed a lot to the development of the neoclassical style, like Robert Joffrey, Glen Tetley, or Gerald Arpino. Their performances included distinct athleticism that contradicted the ballet's refined delicacy. The physical fitness was daring, and the music and mood were more intense. For example, Joffrey’s “Astarte,” staged in 1967, was characterized by strong sexual overtones and a rock score.
Therefore, this substyle's most distinct characteristic features are increased energy and attack, asymmetry and off-balance, one-act performances without any narrative, and very plain sets and costumes.
This substyle integrates the elements of classical presentation, pointe work, and acting with more modern approaches to music and performance. The dance is performed barefoot and may include mime. An orchestra plays the music, or there may be vocals. In some respect, contemporary ballet reminds us of contemporary dance due to the incorporated ideas and innovations of twentieth-century modern dance. They include turn-in of legs and more strenuous floor work.
Scholars believe that George Balanchine was also a pioneer of this substyle in ballet. His main approach was that ballet technique is essential to perform a contemporary ballet. Another famous choreographer who worked with it was Twyla Tharp. Her pieces melded the use of pointe shoes and classic elements with modern movements and techniques. The dance also allows a wider range of upper body positions and is less strict than the classical style. Barefoot performance can also be present.
The romantic era started in the mid-nineteenth century in Europe and then spread across the world. The romantic ballet was a variation of the classical style, with its pointe shoes, long and flowy tutus, and the absolute dominance of female dancers. The themes of performances were focused on intense emotions and aesthetic experiences. The plot was concentrated around a spirit woman, like a sylph or ghost, who won the hearts and feelings of mortal men.
The most prominent dancers of the romantic era were Marie Taglioni, Jules Perrot, and fanny Elssler. Jules Perros is famous for the choreography of “Giselle,” the most popular romantic performance of that time.
“Hips Don’t Lie,” as a prominent Toronto ballet dance company, tries to preserve and combine the distinctive features of all these substyles, so you will get a great chance to enjoy the most dedicated and elaborate ballet performance.
Methods and Routines Every Ballet Dancer Needs to Know
Every ballet dance performance consists of specific routines or choreography chosen in accordance with a specific method used by ballet dance companies. There are six most well-known methods that are used by ballet schools and companies worldwide. They include the French School. The Royal Academy of Dance or English Style, the Vaganova method, the Balanchine method or American style, and the Bournonville and the Cecchetti methods. If you want to know which of these methods ballet dance troupes for hire near me use, you need to ask them. Modern dance companies, like “Hips Don’t Lie,” mostly use these methods to compose unique choreography.
When a child starts doing ballet, the initial requirements are standing still and concentrating on posture. That is why students under 8 years old are not acceptable to most ballet programs.
The French method is the basis of any training. It is a strictly codified set of techniques developed by the Academie Royale de Danse in 1661 and used till nowadays. It was back to life due to Rudolf Nureyev in the 1980s. The method requires technical precision, elegance, clean lines, fluidity, and gracefulness. The routines often include more rounded port de bras and epaulement.
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The Vaganova method appeared due to Agrippina Vaganova, a prominent Russian ballerina, who, when she retired in 1916, trained students in accordance with her individual dance principles. They included the fusion of the romantic era style with the athleticism of Italian ballet and the extreme passion of Russian ballet choreographies. She even wrote a book explaining how to teach students ballet. The development of strength, endurance, and flexibility was the focus of this method.
Enrico Ceccetti developed his method at the beginning of the 20th century. It placed emphasis on elevation, balance, ballon, strength, and poise. The main principle was to make all parts of the body work together to create graceful and harmonious lines.
August Bournonville, a Danish choreographer, developed his method under the influence of the early French ballet school. The main feature is using diagonal epaulements and keeping the upper body over the working foot. The method also includes using pirouettes and bras en bas in the fifth position for starting and ending the movements.
The RAD (Royal Academy of Dance) is often referred to as the English style. It appeared in 1920. The method aimed to promote the classical training of ballet dancers across Britain. It also spread to the United States and is widely used today. The main approach here is that the basic ballet dance routine is necessary for every student before they start performing on stage, and it should be taught at a very slow pace. The method is rather demanding because students have to work hard to master the essential techniques and make them perfect.
George Balanchine created Balanchine Method at the New York City Ballet. It includes such elements as extreme speed throughout all routines, clear and distinct lines, and deep plies. The positioning of the body is non-traditional. Dancers can use off-balance positions, flexed hands, and even feet.
Famous Performances and Present-Day Ballet Dance
Almost all ballet dancers today are expected to perform modern, contemporary, or neoclassical routines today. However, the classical approaches are still applicable and widely used nowadays. Alongside modern varieties and choreographies, the most popular classical ballets are always trendy. If you want to see the best ballet dance performance, go to Swan Lake or The Nutcracker by Tchaikovsky, either in their classical or modern versions created by George Balanchine in 1954. Or you may enjoy Sleeping Beauty, Don Quixote, or Romeo and Juliet.
The new era in the history of ballet dancing was opened in the first part of the 20th century and continued throughout the 21st century. Today, we see the result of the strenuous work of such talented choreographers as Sergei Diaghilev and Michel Fokine. They started the experiments with movements and costumes, trying to go behind the restrictions of the classical forms.
As a result, a neo-classical ballet created by George Balanchine appeared in America and expanded the classical form even further. It started a series of plotless ballet performances produced by different ballet dance groups to convey music and illuminate human emotions.
Therefore, ballet today is multi-faceted with its classical forms and traditional stories, contemporary routines and innovations, and the absolutely unpredictable character of further developments.
The talented and professional ballet dance troupe at “Hips Don’t Lie” will provide you with a better understanding of what modern ballet is about. We are proud to be a well-known ballet dance company whose fusion of styles and techniques allows for making an absolutely unique dancing product for every festive occasion.
We offer the best entertainment acts for hire on the present-day market in Toronto and GTA, and no other ballet dance troupes for hire near me can compete with our bright and eye-catching performances where different styles, techniques, and approaches are perfectly combined. You are welcome to see everything on your own.
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What is ballet dance?
Ballet is a genre of the concert (performance) dance. It appeared during the Renaissance era in Italy. It was the fifteenth century when this art form started developing and then spread to France and Russia. This dance is highly technical, and it uses its own vocabulary.
What are the 4 types of ballet?
The most widely known and performed type of ballet is its classical variation. Russian, French, and Italian ballet represent it. Later types include contemporary ballet and neoclassical ballet. They use both classical and non-traditional techniques and movements. The fourth and most popular style nowadays is romantic ballet or ballet blanc.
How difficult is ballet?
Ballet technique is very demanding. It requires a lot of strength, balance, flexibility, and technical skills. In addition, female dancers have to perform on their tiptoes using pointe shoes. It means that you need to be very fit and strong to take up ballet dancing.
What is a ballet group called?
A ballet dance group is called the corps de ballet. The name originates from the French “body of the ballet.” It does not consist of soloists and principal dancers but works as a backdrop for them. Principal and corps de ballet dancers make up a troupe. If this troupe has a home theater and financial support, it becomes a ballet company.