As a dance that has existed for more than a hundred years, it is no surprise that ballet has a long and rich history. Up until the present, the dance is often associated with high-brow culture with the beauty of the classical ballet music that accompanies it and the intricacy of ballet dancers movements. Although a lot of ballet shows have been popularized in the mainstream like Swan Lake, Giselle, and Romeo and Juliet.
Ballet began as a kind of performance dance during the Italian Renaissance, and it has then transitioned into a concert dance during the fifteenth century in Russia and France. Similar to other forms of dances popular today, several kinds of ballet vary according to its origins, style, tradition, and technique.
Classical ballet is composed of traditional ballet and its accompanying classical techniques are known for their rigorousness and aesthetics. These include the pointe work, the turnout of the legs which was introduced by King Louis XIV who loved to show off his shoe buckles, and high extensions. Style variations in classical ballet exist among areas where they originated. An example of this is the fast, intricate footwork of Italian ballet, whereas Russian ballet favored dynamic turns and high extensions. Famous classical ballet dancers include Anna Pavlova, Rudolf Nureyev, and Dame Margot Fonteyn.
From the name of this style, Romantic ballet is a type of ballet that has imbibed the ideals of Romanticism during the mid 19th century as shown in literature and art of the period. The Paris Opera Ballet propagated this style through the Théâtre de l’Académie Royale de Musique and the Her Majesty’s Theatre in London. The Romantic style spread the idea of weightlessness in ballet with many ballerinas captured in photographs doing the famous pointework in their romantic tutus. Romantic ballet also featured gaslighting and special effects in the performances as well as the creation of specific ballet music for the performances.
Contemporary ballet, unlike the other first two styles, combines the elements and techniques of classical ballet with that of modern dance. Contemporary ballet dancers still make use of classical techniques, including the pointe technique. However, they do not limit the movement of their upper body and embrace various ranges in the creation of body lines while dancing. The style of the contemporary ballet was credited to Serge Diaghilev, a Russian art producer who wanted to spread the beauty of the arts to a more modern audience.
Another newer style of ballet is the neoclassical school as exemplified and popularized by performances led by George Balanchine, an American ballet choreographer. It is a revival of the classical ballet techniques and style in response to the excessive styles associated with Romantic Ballet and post-romantic modernist aesthetics. The neoclassical ballet is influenced heavily by the dances shown in Imperial Russia during the 19th century. However, it excludes the theatrical setting and the narrative. The neoclassical choreographers seek to focus on the dance itself and not the drama produced by narrative ballet.