Is an American in Paris a Ballet?


Is an American in Paris a Ballet?

The 1951 musical film ‘An American in Paris’ won eight Academy Awards and has been widely celebrated as one of the greatest musical films of all time. But is it a ballet? The answer is not so straightforward.

The movie was originally conceived as a ballet, written and produced by the renowned American composer and choreographer George Gershwin. The story follows an American painter, played by Gene Kelly, who falls in love with a young French girl while living in the city of Paris. The movie features some of Gershwin’s most iconic music, which was choreographed and danced by Kelly and Leslie Caron.

But while the movie contains scenes that could be considered ballets, it is not technically a ballet because it does not follow the traditional narrative structure of a classical ballet. Instead, the musical numbers are more like dance interludes that are tied together by the film’s plot.

It is clear, however, that ‘An American in Paris’ draws heavily on classical ballet influences. In particular, Kelly and Caron’s performances draw on elements from famous ballets such as ‘Swan Lake’ and ‘Giselle’. The use of pointe shoes also adds to this classical aesthetic, which further ties ‘An American in Paris’ to its balletic roots.

Moreover, the movie contains some innovative choreography that has become iconic within its own right. In particular, Kelly and Caron’s performance during the ‘American in Paris’ dream sequence has become one of the most iconic scenes in film history – it even made an appearance in Disney’s ‘Fantasia 2000’. This scene combines both classical elements with modern techniques to create something new and exciting – something that can only be described as pure dance magic.

So while ‘An American in Paris’ may not be a traditional ballet, it certainly contains enough elements to make it one of the most beloved dance films ever made. It is an inspiring work that celebrates both classical ballet aesthetics and modern dance techniques – making it truly timeless piece of artistry worthy of its place amongst some of cinema’s greatest masterpieces.


In conclusion, ‘An American in Paris’ may not technically be considered a traditional ballet but its strong ties to classical influences make it an important part of both cinema history and dance history alike. Its innovative choreography has become iconic within its own right – making it one of the most beloved musical films ever made!