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Ballet & Modern


“classical” or formal dance

– Prescribed, formalized movement
– Solo, Duets, Choruses

Dinner Ballets

Renaissance Period

– Lavish entertainments
– Entrees – In between courses, often mythological characters reflecting the meal

Catherine de’Medici

Wife of King Henry II of France (Renaissance)

– A great patron of the arts
– Began to fund ballet in the French court
– Elaborate festivals encouraged the growth of ballet de cour, a program that included dance, decor, costume, song, music and poetry

Louis XIV

The Sun King & Dancing King (Renaissance)

Academie Royale de Danse (1661)

Used proscenium stage
– Separated the dancers from the audience
– Established rules for positions and movements
– Women allowed on stage (1681)

Who was Louis XIV’s dance teacher?

Pierre Duchamps

Pierre Duchamps

Credited with inventing the 5 basic dance positions of ballet

When were women allowed on stage?

1681 under Louis XIV

Marie Anne Cupis de Carmago

Age of Enlightenment

– Male failed to make entrance, so she danced his part
– Raised skirt to show off foot work, danced with the skill of a man
– Remembered for her numerous technical innovations.

Age of Enlightenment – 17th and 18th Century

Action ballet in which the narrative is advanced through gesture and pantomime

Marie Salle

Age of Enlightenment

– More expressive, not just leaps and posture
– First important female choreographer
– Wore only simple drapery and her hair loose.

John Weaver

Age of Enlightenment

– London choreographer
– Focus on dramatic content
– Focus on display of dance

Jean-Georges Navarre

Age of Enlightenment

– 1760 Letters on Dancing and Ballet
– Treat ballet as a play without words

Charles Didelot

Age of Enlightenment

– Introduced tights
– Zephyr and Flora (1796)

What ballet is credited with the introduction of dancing en pointe to the stage?

Zephyr and Flora (1796) by Charles Didelot

How many basic positions are there in ballet?

5 Basic Positions – 1st, 2nd. 3rd, 4th, 5th

All moves stem from these basic postures

Port de bras

an act or manner of moving and posing the arms


Back straight, bend the knees to move down then push up


½ bend, beginning and end of each move

Grande plié

large bend, heels off floor

Elevé (Relevé)

rise up onto balls of feet


cut or cutting, foot lifted, flexed and held against ankle


a movement in which one leg is moved outward from the body and in again


Stretch foot along the floor, lift at the end


Balance on one leg, other leg lifted straight behind


American Born, anti-balletic style of dance developed at the turn of the century (late 1800’s early 1900’s)

– Revolt against formalized movement
– Exploration of natural, spontaneous, uninhibited movement
– Different need of emotional expression
– Created own forms and characteristics
– Angular lines and use of Dance Floor

Loie Fuller

Late 1800s

– Plays with the effect of Natural movement and improvisation
– Stagecraft lighting (gas lighting on silk costumes for lighting color and effect)

Isadora Duncan

Turn of the century, self-taught dancer

– Discarded the corset and tutu
– Danced in flowing, Greek tunic-like garments
– Barefoot
– Emotional and expressive way of dancing

Ruth St. Denis

With husband (Ted Shawn) created Denishawn School

– Combination of exotic interpretations and Delsarte
– Draperies and Veils – Extension of the dancers body


19th century system of gestures and postures to communicate

Martha Graham

Considered the Mother of Modern Dance

– Went to Denishawn School
– Angular lines, barefoot
– Dark, Heavy, Earthy (Earthbound)
– Appalachian Spring (1944)

What kind of technique did Martha Graham use in her modern style?

Contraction and Release

Based on breathing, tense and release body, whip-like, focus on the tension. Angular lines followed by smoother lines

Mark Morris

Created White Oak Dance Project with Mikhail Baryshnikov on 1990

– One of greatest living Modern dance choreographers
– Powerful dancer
– “Polka”

Elizabeth Streb

American Choreographer

– Interested in experimentation
– Physically demanding
– Interested in the dynamics of action
– “Be willing to get hurt, but not so hurt that you can’t come back again.”
– Action Artist

Pina Baush

German choreographer

– Tanztheater
– A blend of movement, sound, and prominent stage sets, and elaborate collaboration with performers.
– One of the most important choreographers of the second half of the 20th Century
– Continual theme of finding the harmony between man and woman

“To understand what I am saying, you have to believe that dance is something other than technique. We forget where the movements come from. They are born from life. When you create a new work, the point of departure must be contemporary life — not existing forms of dance.”

Quote by Pina Baush