Was Ballet the First Type of Dance?


The debate of whether ballet was the first type of dance has been around for centuries. Ballet is a form of theatrical dance that originated in the Italian Renaissance courts, and is still performed today all over the world.

The earliest form of ballet was known as “court ballet” and developed out of the elaborate court ceremonies and masques that were popular during the late Renaissance period. This type of performance featured acrobatics, music, and dancing to create elaborate spectacles.

The codification of ballet technique began in France during the 1600s under Louis XIV, who established The Royal Academy of Dance. It is believed that Louis XIV himself was one of the first professional dancers in history.

At this time, ballet became more formalised and structured with a focus on technique and aesthetics. During this period, some of the most famous ballets were composed including “Le Ballet de la Nuit” by Jean-Baptiste Lully.

The development of ballet continued throughout Europe in the 18th century with many prominent composers such as Joseph Haydn creating ballets for royal courts. It wasn’t until the early 19th century that ballet started to become more widely performed outside royal courts when choreographers such as Marius Petipa began to create works for public performances.

Although ballet is often thought to be one of the oldest forms of dance, many experts believe it is not actually the first type. Prehistoric cave paintings have been discovered which feature figures engaged in what appears to be ritual dances similar to those seen in tribal cultures today. These ancient dances are believed to be thousands of years old, predating formalised court ballets by several centuries.


Therefore, it can be said that although Ballet has been around since at least the Renaissance period, it was not necessarily the first type of dance. Ancient cave paintings provide evidence that humans have been dancing for thousands of years before formalised court ballets were created.