As a ballet (from the Italian balletto, diminutive of ballo, for German dance), also classical dance, accompanied by music classical artistic stage dance is called ( which is often distinguished from contemporary dance, modern dance and dance theater). In particular, the term can also have the following meanings:

  • A dance performance on stage to musical accompaniment, the performance is mainly composed of dance or can be part of a larger work (opera, operetta, musical ).
  • An art form / Division at the theater next opera, drama and concerts.
  • A dramatic work in which the dance takes center stage.
  • Music that was written as an accompaniment for dance stage.
  • A dancer ensemble at the Theater ( corps de ballet ).

Traditional way is meant by a classical ballet a ballet. Based on a libretto musical composition and choreography are created. In addition, scenery, props and costumes. The dance itself consists of body movements in space, gestures and facial expressions.

  • 3.1 ballet positions
  • 3.2 ballet terms
  • 6.1 technology
  • 6.2 history

History of ballet

Emancipation from ballroom dancing

The ballet developed in the 15th and 16th centuries from the listed Italian and French royal courts acting as well as dance games. At that time there was not yet an independent art form. The stage dance was similar to the spectacle, long reserved for men.

The leadership role in the development of the dance went over to France in the 16th century from Italy. The oldest ballet whose score is obtained, the Ballet comique de la reine for Catherine de Medici from 1581. It is related to a court festival on the occasion of a wedding, contains ancient mythological figures and conveyed political messages. It shows the connection of Italian and French dance elements in the service of a court show of force.

1661 Louis XIV founded the Académie Royale de Danse in Paris. During this time the ballet underwent a tremendous development and is increasingly performed by professional dancers. Thus, separating the dance from the courtly ceremonial. From 1681, women were allowed to dance in public here.

The dance technique, steps and positions of his time describing Raoul Feuillet in 1700 in his book Chorégraphie. Middle of the 18th century brought the first ballets. Previously, the dances were connected by a common theme, but not by a continuous action. To play the individual parts of Jean -Philippe Rameau's opera ballet Les Indes Gallant ( 1735), all in exotic countries, have this characteristic also but no substantive connection.

The ballet

1760 Jean Georges Noverre published his Letters on the art of dance and ballet, influenced many of his contemporaries. He believed that one could make a drama with the language of dance. Because the drama was still considered the highest literary genre, it devalued the dance considerably. He continued his ideas into the ballet Medea and Jason, which premiered in 1763 by the Ballet de l' Opéra de Paris. Parallel to the court ballet, there were about in the Paris market theater, the popular pantomime, which also had acts and the "high " art of dance influenced than the court culture was increasingly criticized before the French Revolution.

The reform of the ballet La Fille mal gardée (1789 ) by Jean Dauberval is the oldest remaining today in the repertoire piece. It refrained from classic characters like satyrs and other mythological creatures, and brought a simple interpersonal conflict on the stage.

In the revolutionary period Auguste Vestris helped the ballet, which was always still incorporated into operas, to give a definite meaning. After 1800, the newly emerging genre of grand opera each contained an extended ballet. In this framework, new dance techniques and scenery developed.

The "classical" time

In the first two decades of the 19th century, the Theater am Parisian boulevard du Temple were, some of great ballet companies had very successful with mixed forms of ballet, theater, mime and circus. The mythological ballets of the Paris Opera were old-fashioned, and the Opéra had to be based on the taste of the public, who preferred either realistic or substances Feerien. In the opera La muette de Portici (1828 ) a silent protagonist appeared, quite similar to the products of the Boulevard Theatre as Yelva, the Russian Orphan (1828 ). Such silent roles were often interpreted by dancers. In the same year the opera took the ballet La fille mal gardée in a modernized version in the Schedule on.

The " nuns ballet" Robert le diable in the opera (1831 ) by Filippo Taglioni with Maria Taglioni as a soloist announced the spin-off of the Ballet of the Opera. The era of Romantic ballet ( in the time of the French romance ) began with Filippo Taglioni's La Sylphide Choreography (1832 ). During this time the ballet went through a series of radical changes both in what concerned his subjects the dance itself. Fairytales replaced the ancient subjects who had not yet played an important role in Pierre Gardel. The ballets were sophisticated dramatic actions to which about Eugène Scribe provided the texts. The top dance was invented and the costumes were changed so that the foot and leg work for the spectators became visible. The first champion of the top dance applies Maria Taglioni. A central role in the former stylistic changes Jules Perrot held, who created for Carlotta Grisi, the ballet Giselle (1841 ). The prima ballerina was similar to the prima donna at the opera the star of the civilized world. Taglioni, Grisi and Fanny Elssler were the celebrities of the time.

The heyday the ballet in the second half of the 19th century in Russia. Under the leadership of Marius Petipa created classic masterpieces such as Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty and The Nutcracker. From this school the most famous ballerina Anna Pavlova came out.

Expressive dance and other innovations

Educators such as François Delsarte, to which about Ruth St. Denis was based, had already drawn in the classical period of the ballet its content and its highly specialized technology in doubt. By the term dance since about 1900, as it Isadora Duncan presented on their worldwide tours, numerous ballet conventions were attacked and abolished. It developed new forms of representation, for example, in the choreography of Rudolf von Laban.

The avant-garde end of the 19th and early 20th century led to an approximation of the ballet to the other arts and the popular stage dance or mime, such as Erik Satie, Jean Cocteau and Pablo Picasso staged together with the Ballets Russes Parade Paris in 1917. Artists like Sophie Taeuber -Arp tried as a stage dancer and featured the classic dance craft in question. Emil Jaques- Dalcroze joined the professional stage dance with the folk dance and gymnastics. Michel Fokine tried to mediate between the older and the newer technology term efforts (such as in The Dying Swan, 1907).

From the expression dance and the related modern dance, the spread in the U.S., many efforts have emerged to renew the ballet. They are summarized under the concept of contemporary dance. As the founder of Mary Wigman, Martha Graham, Palucca and Jean Weidt apply. Kurt Jooss and his student Pina Bausch, the famous pioneer of dance theater, which strictly opposes ballet traditions.

Renaissance of classical ballet

At the beginning of the 20th century began in Western Europe and North America a renaissance of ballet one, caused among other things by the founding of the Ballets Russes by the impresario Sergei Diaghilev 1909. The troops came from St. Petersburg, celebrated her success in Paris and had great influence on the U.S. dance. The ballet of the 20th century was dominated by artists who went to the founding of the Soviet Union into Western exile. This includes Michel Fokine, Vaslav Nijinsky and George Balanchine. The ballet was received Artistic of the Berlin Secession, above all Ernst Oppler.

Classical ballet was able to keep the Eastern European States in very traditional forms. The dancer and teacher Agrippina Vaganova Jakovlevna designed a universal representation of his technique. By renewing attempts in the West, however, it fell into distress. Since the 1930s, there was therefore efforts to preserve classical ballet traditions, which are summarized under the term of neoclassicism. As the founder George Balanchine is considered his most plotless ballet in London was of Frederick Ashton that direction, in the U.S., for example, Bronislava Nijinska. A younger generation of neo-classicism represented about John Cranko with his great ballets.

Since the mid-1950s the classical repertoire of Russian ballet tradition has become also native to western European stages and forms the opposite pole to the modern dance theater. However, the choreography show up in ever new variations. Was often solved misunderstood and not always satisfactory, the division of functions in a dancer and mime in the romantic ballet, which is important to the understanding of the plot.

Ballet Music

Only in the second half of the 17th century ballet music evolved in the modern sense. Had the French Opera in the 17th and 18th centuries (Jean -Baptiste Lully, Jean -Philippe Rameau ) an emphasis on the ballet, which, however, still strongly oriented toward the ballroom dancing. Even Mozart wrote some music for the stage dancing. The dance interludes and divertissements are no longer known or often is aware of their function as a dance music is no longer clear.

The ballet master who played with the dance master violin as Pierre Beauchamp, were often responsible for the composition of music. The choreographer Arthur Saint- Léon was even in the mid- 19th century, yet at the same time dancer, violinist and composer.

In the 19th century an independent ballet music evolved. One of the oldest classical ballet scores include La Sylphide (1832 ) by Jean Schneitzhoeffer, Giselle (1841 ) by Adolphe Adam and Coppélia (1870 ) by Léo Delibes. You is in each case a literary ballet libretto is based. Both were premiered by the Ballet de l' Opéra de Paris.

Especially during the heyday of classical ballet in the second half of the 19th century in St. Petersburg, the composition has been adapted to the realities of the theater and the size and composition of the ensemble. Here, the composer and the choreographer often worked closely together and communicated via the " Minutage ".

In this heyday Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky wrote for the St. Petersburg's Mariinsky Theatre and the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow. The result are pieces that are now part of the repertoire of every classical ballet company, for example, Swan (1877 ), Sleeping Beauty (1890) and The Nutcracker ( 1892).

The most famous ballets of the early 20th century are Igor Stravinsky's The Firebird (1910 ), Petrushka (1911) and Le sacre du printemps (1913). Claude Debussy's music became famous in Nijinsky's choreography L' Après -midi d'un faune (1912). There to Maurice Ravel's Boléro since Ida Rubinstein 1927 numerous dance versions.

Sergei Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet, too (1936) and Cinderella (1945 ) sat still through on the ballet stage. Integral Ballet compositions created mid-20th century still Aram Khachaturian. The best known are Gayaneh (1942 ) and Spartacus (1956).

The full-length ballets of the 19th century led temporarily to a predominance of music on the dance that broke up again in the 20th century. Choreographers increasingly used pieces of music that were not specifically written for the stage dancing. Absolute music as symphonies and sonatas has been interpreted since Isadora Duncan through the dance. Also combinations of very different pieces of music were tested. Dance pieces were and are also listed and use sound collages or speaker as acoustic enhancement without music. Also, stage dance with DJ is seen occasionally.

Classical Technique

To learn the classic technique, you need a years of daily training. The method of such training is based on exercises at the barre (bar) and exercises in the milieu (center). The exercises at the barre are used to prepare the body and the base technology. An optimal vertical axis, which is achieved by centering the body is when replacing the ceiling heights ( plié, tendue, relevé ) always be guaranteed, regardless of whether is related to both, or on one leg. Furthermore, the movements of the legs, arms, and the head in different directions in space are accurately practiced.

In the middle ( milieu ) then some of the placement exercises are repeated, but in space ( change of direction, change of place ). The step sequences are divided into qualitative categories: adagio, pirouettes and large pirouettes, petit allegro (small, very fast jumps), medium jumps and finally the grand allegro. There are different levels of difficulty and design for each of these category. Teachers are free to make these combinations.

In a ballet class so no choreography to be practiced. To do this, the ballet dancer or dancers of contemporary dance only in the samples. Stage dancer exercising, so practice their technique, as long as they act as interpreters (as well as the musicians or singers ).

Ballet positions

The basis of the physical posture is the Vertical and the en dehors ( outward rotation of the legs from the hip joint ). The ballet positions, for example, include the Arabesque ( free leg stretched ) and the attitude ( bent free leg ), the Sur -le- cou -de -pied and retire, as are the foot positions are standardized. The arms ( these include the hands and fingers ) have certain positions and the head ( this includes the view). In a choreography formalized these positions are changed, blurred, varied and interpreted. But all this is done on the basis of the basic positions. A ballet dancer is therefore always in one of these positions, regardless of whether he jumps, turns or moves.

Ballet terms

Since the history of ballet in Italy starts and then transferred to France, still today most of the terms of the ballet language French or rare Italian origin. Ballet terminology is still not uniform, each of the major schools use slightly different terms. In the daily work in the ballet studio often abbreviations are used.


In the history of ballet, the costumes have changed according to contemporary tastes. Over the years, they were shorter and lighter. This paved the way for more sophisticated and technically difficult movements. Even today, the costumes are only slightly varied. So Giselle always wears a knee-length dress, and the Swans from Swan Lake are easy to recognize even for a layman. In the women's costumes, a distinction between the long tulle skirt for ghosts from the White Akt ( ballet blanc ) (eg, in Giselle ), the narrow long dress (for example, in Romeo and Juliet) and the tutu, a stiff protruding tulle skirt, of the most famous ballet costume represents (eg in Swan Lake and Raymonda ) and originates from the 19th century. Some costumes that are nice stick out ( circle skirts ), an aluminum frame is used as an aid. As top of a corset is usually worn. The costume of the men consists in ballet usually consists of a shirt and ( opaque ) tights. Often a jacket is worn over the shirt.