Ballet Beautiful

By Greg Smith

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Cours public du ballet national de Cuba
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Ballet is a type of performance dance that originated in the Italian Renaissance courts of the 15th century and later developed into a concert dance form in France and Russia. It has since become a widespread, highly technical form of dance with its own vocabulary. It has been globally influential and has defined the foundational techniques used in many other dance genres. Ballet may also refer to a ballet dance work, which consists of the choreography and music for a ballet production. A well-known example of this is The Nutcracker, a two-act ballet that was originally choreographed by Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov with a music score by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky.

Stylistic variations have emerged and evolved since the Italian Renaissance. Early variations are primarily associated with geographic origin. Examples of this are Russian ballet, French ballet, and Italian ballet. Later variations include contemporary ballet and neoclassical ballet. Perhaps the most widely known and performed ballet style is late Romantic ballet (or Ballet Blanc), which is a classical style that focuses on female dancers and features pointe work, flowing and precise acrobatic movements, and often presents the female dancers in traditional, short white French tutus.

Ballet dance works (ballets) are choreographed and performed by trained artists, and often performed with classical music accompaniment. Early ballets preceded the invention of the proscenium stage and were performed in large chambers with the audience seated on tiers or galleries on three sides of the dance floor. Modern ballets may include mime and acting, and are usually set to music (typically orchestral but occasionally vocal).

Ballet requires years of training to learn and master, and much practice to retain proficiency. It has been taught in ballet schools around the world, which have historically used their own cultures to evolve the art. Ballet is the foundation of many types of dance.

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