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, and 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.
Today the most common 'schools' (training methods) of ballet include the Cecchetti method developed in Italy; the French or Paris Opera Ballet method out of France; the Royal Academy of Dance (RAD) method developed in Great Britain; the Vaganova method developed in Russia; and the Bournonville method developed in Denmark.note These methods are all used to varying degrees worldwide, and are not confined to the country in which they were developed.
Ballet dancers typically start at around 8 years oldnote and continue training into their late teens. When not taught properly, ballet can result in crippling 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, Mathilde Kschessinska, Alicia Alonso, Margot Fonteyn, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Rudolf Nureyev, Vaslav Nijinsky, Natalia Makarova, Alicia Markova, Maya Plisetskaya, and Gelsey Kirkland are some of the world's most famous past dancers. More recent dancers include Tamara Rojo, Paloma Herrera, Gillian Murphy, Alina Cojocaru, Carlos Acosta, Svetlana Zakharova, David Hallberg, Natalia Osipova, Polina Semionova, Alessandra Ferri, and Diana Vishneva.
Well-known Ballet Companies:
- American Ballet Theatre (USA)
- Les Ballets Trockadero De Monte Carlo (USA)
- The Bolshoi Ballet (Russia)
- The Cullberg Ballet (Sweden)
- English National Ballet (Great Britain)
- The Australian Ballet (Australia)
- The Mariinsky (or Kirov) Ballet (Russia)
- The National Ballet of Canada (Canada)
- The National Ballet of Cuba (Cuba)
- The New York City Ballet (USA)
- The Paris Opera Ballet (France)
- The Royal Ballet (Great Britain)
- The Royal Danish Ballet (Denmark)
- The Royal Swedish Ballet (Sweden)
- The San Francisco Ballet (USA)
- La Scala Theatre Ballet (Italy)
Famous Ballets (by choreographer)
- George Balanchine
- August Bournonville
- Flower Festival in Genzano
- La Sylphide
- Mikhail Fokine
- The Dying Swan
- Daphnis et Chloé
- Agnes de Mille
- Marius Petipa
- Christopher Wheeldon
- Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
- Various Choreographers
Tchaikovsky's ballets are probably the most well-known and successful. Other famous composers of ballet music are Ludwig Minkus, Adolphe Adam, Sergei Prokofiev, Leo Delibes, Igor Stravinsky, Aaron Copland, and Cesare Pugni.
Works with major involvement of ballet:
- Angelina Ballerina: A cartoon series about a ballet loving mouse.
- Ballerina: (aka: Leap!) an animated movie about a French girl who runs away from her orphanage (with the help of her best friend) to fulfil her dream of joining a prestigious Parisian ballet school and win the part of Klara in the Paris debut of The Nutcracker.
- 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. The youngest sister Posey is the daughter of a ballerina, who gave her up to focus on her career. She's the one of the sisters that have the most 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.
- Dance Academy
- Flesh and Bone: A young dancer escapes an abusive home-life to join a prestigious ballet company in New York.
- Flowers in the Attic and its sequels, particularly Petals On the Wind: Narrator Cathy 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.
- McQueen: The mannequins and twins provide ballet during every change, in some fantasy sequences, and in as many scenes as Dahlia. Dahlia even joins in at one point.
- Pas de deux: Short film of two ballet dancers, with optical printing and other special effects and enhancements to alter the image.
- 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.
- Subaru: A manga with ballet as its main performed type of dance and story following the titular character's drive to become a professional ballet dancer.
- 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: 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.