Think tutus, pretty girls, and Tchaikovsky. The art of ballet is formalized performance dance that has evolved into a new concert dance. It all started during the Italian Renaissance as a dancing pantomime for fencing, much different from today's perception of the art. It developed through French courts' social dances. France's early influence is made apparent through the "vocabulary of ballet", the steps and forms with their own names. During the 18th century, its technicalities developed so that it became a dramatic art on par with opera. By the 19th century, Russia had adopted its own style and continued to train even under Soviet rule. Ballet technique would require far too much elaboration for this page. Ballet dancers typically start at around 8 years old and continue training into their late teens. When not taught properly, ballet can result in the most crippling of injuries, which is one of the reasons why lessons are considered fairly expensive. Because of the pressure to sculpt a 'Balanchine body', the promise of a short career, racism and sexism (sometimes to the extreme), and intense training, being a ballerina is not some princesslike girly sport. Dancers will perform sick and hurt, often on bleeding feet. Anna Pavlova, Alicia Alonso, Margot Fonteyn, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Rudolf Nureyev, Vaslav Nijinsky, Natalia Makarova, and Gelsey Kirkland are some of the world's most famous past dancers. More recent dancers include Paloma Herrera, Gillian Murphy, Alina Cojocaru, Carlos Acosta, Svetlana Zakharova, David Hallberg, Natalia Osipova and Polina Semionova.
Well-known Ballet Companies:
- American Ballet Theatre (USA)
- Les Ballets Trockadero De Monte Carlo (USA)
- The Bolshoi Ballet (Russia)
- The Cullberg Ballet (Sweden)
- The Mariinsky (or Kirov) Ballet (Russia)
- The National Ballet of Canada
- The New York City Ballet (USA)
- The Paris Opera Ballet (France)
- The Royal Ballet (Great Britain)
- The Royal Danish Ballet (Denmark)
- The San Francisco Ballet (USA)
Famous Ballets (by choreographer)
- George Balanchine
- August Bournonville
- La Sylphide
- Mikhail Fokine
- The Dying Swan
- Daphnis et Chloé
- Agnes de Mille
- Marius Petipa
- Christopher Wheeldon
- Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
- Various Choreographers
- La Fille Mal Gardée
- The Rite of Spring
- Romeo and Juliet
Works with major involvement of ballet:
- Ballet Shoes: A book about three adopted girls living in 1930's England. Together they are being trained in dance, with varying degrees of success.
- Billy Elliot: A young boy rebels against the prejudices of his working class friends and family to pursue his love of ballet. Set during the mining strikes of Thatcher's Britain.
- Black Swan: The intense stress of life in a ballet corps drives one dancer to paranoia and madness.
- Brain Donors: The plot revolves around shyster Roland Flakfizer's management of the Oglethorpe Ballet Company and its star-crossed leads. As a remake of A Night at the Opera, Rule of Funny is the key motivation here.
- Bunheads: A ballet dancer-turned-showgirl clashes with her mother-in-law, a dance mistress who runs a ballet school in her home.
- The Cherry Project: About a figure skater training in ballet.
- Flowers in the Attic and its sequels, particularly Petals On the Wind: Narrator Catherine trains in ballet from a very young age, eventually joining a ballet troupe and marrying the male lead. She and her husband are both well known in the art, and their son grows up to become a famous ballet dancer in his own right.
- Princess Tutu: Combines ballet with Magical Girl tropes.
- The Red Shoes 1948: Romance and ambition collide, tragedy ensues. Based loosely on the Hans Christian Andersen tale of the same name.
- Swan: A shojo about a young ballet student striving To Be a Master.
- The Turning Point: Aging ballerina and her retired friend rehash old professional rivalry. Mikhail Baryshnikov's film debut. Received eleven Academy Award nominations, all of which it lost.
- Reserved for the Cat in the Elemental Masters series: Based on the story Puss in Boots. The main character is a French ballerina, who on the advice of her telepathic cat, masquerades as a famous Russian ballerina who is the sole surivor of a shipwreck and signs on to be the star of a music hall in Blackpool, England.