Ballet is an artistic dance form characterized by grace and precision of movement. It is a French word that literally means “dance” and it is considered one of the most classical forms of dance. The origins of ballet can be traced back to the Italian Renaissance courts of the 15th century, where it was developed primarily as a form of court entertainment.
Ballet began to take its modern form during the reign of Louis XIV in France, who was a great lover and patron of the art of dance. He established a professional dance company in 1661 called the Académie Royale de Danse, which included both men and women dancers. This marked the beginning of a structured school system for training dancers in ballet technique and repertoire.
One of Louis XIV’s court composers was Jean-Baptiste Lully, who composed music specifically for ballet performances at court. He revolutionized ballet by introducing musical structure into it, thus creating what is now known as “absolute” or “symphonic” ballet. His work laid the foundation for what would become modern classical ballet technique.
Jean Georges Noverre
The next major figure in the development of ballet was Jean Georges Noverre, who worked as a dancing master at court during Louis XV’s reign (1715-1774). Noverre saw ballet not just as entertainment but also as an expressive art form, and he sought to bring dramatic expression to choreography by introducing mime and characterization into his ballets. He also wrote several influential treatises on choreography which were widely read and studied by subsequent generations of choreographers.
The next major figure in the development of classical ballet was Marie Taglioni, who was one of the first ballerinas to perform pointe work (dancing on her toes). She was trained by her father Filippo Taglioni and her brother Paul Taglioni, both renowned choreographers at that time. Marie Taglioni popularized pointe work with her iconic performance in La Sylphide (1832), which made her an international star.
It can be seen that while ballet has evolved over centuries, many figures have played important roles in its development. From Jean-Baptiste Lully’s introduction of musical structure into it to Marie Taglioni’s popularization pointe work, many great contributors have shaped what we know today as classical ballet. Ultimately though, it can be said that no single individual can be credited with inventing contemporary ballet since it has evolved over time through contributions from many different people throughout history.