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From classical ballet to contemporary ballet

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Published: Mon, 5 Dec 2016

From Classical Ballet to Contemporary Ballet

Ballet originally emerged in the late 15th century in the Renaissance court of Italy. Then, it was a dance interpretation of fencing.  Ballet was further developed and popularized in the French Courts in the 17th century. From court ballet to modern ballet, the dance techniques and practice has evolved throughout the years. Contemporary Ballet now incorporates classical ballet with modern dance techniques such as floor work and turn-in of the legs. (wikipedia, par 9) Ballet shows now focus more on the plot as compared to the 17th century, where the focus was the intertwine of music and poetry. It had also often included singing. 17th Century Ballet had minimal plot because Ballets were designed principally for the entertainment of the aristocracy, hence rich costumes, scenery, and elaborate stage effects were emphasized. In the 19th century, there was an increase in interest among the public, and Ballets such as Swan Lake (1876), Sleeping Beauty (1890), and The Nutcracker (1892) were produced. There was an influence of jazz, jazz rhythms and modern dance at that time, originating in the USA, hence greater body expressions.

Today, Ballet is an internationally practiced and appreciated dance, with many dance school dedicated to the teaching of Ballet, including prominent schools such as the royal ballet school and many other small private dance centres. These schools train Ballet dancers from young and even adults who have never learned Ballet as a child are able to practice due to the large amount of adult Ballet classes for beginners. For those who are not striving to be a professional Ballet dance, practicing Ballet is a form of sport which teaches excellent posture and trains you to be graceful and disciplined.

From the increase in Ballet schools, dancers and shows for the public, it can be concluded that one of the most significant change in the practice of Ballet, would be the accessibility of Ballet. In the 17th century, ballet was performed in the royal courts. It was a dance that was rather exclusive for the royals and the high society. Many commoners would not have the luxury to attend Ballet performances. However, as Ballet developed, it became more popular and much appreciated and watched by various people. Today, Ballets are relatively inexpensive to watch, including well know Ballets such as Swan Lake and the Nutcracker being some of the most famous ballets that are widely watched even to those who have little knowledge about dance or do not come from well off family backgrounds. Ballet is viewed as a classical performance that is available for anyone.

What has not changed about Ballet is that Ballet is still considered a high culture performance art, despite the fact that it is one of the most practiced and watched dances by many from various social status and education level. You’ve got to attend Ballet performances in order to be “cultured”. Also, Ballet is still very female dominant in the eyes of the public. This is to say that parents would tend to send their daughters to Ballet classes rather than sons. However, this is not to say there are few males Ballet dancers. Ballet now being so much more accessible, in level with other dance forms such as hip hip and jazz, it is no longer a dance for the rich and privilege.

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