Ballet

Ballet (French: [balɛ]) is a type of performance dance that originated during the Italian Renaissance in the fifteenth century and later developed into a concert dance form in France and Russia. It has since become a widespread, highly technical form of dance with its own vocabulary based on French terminology. It has been globally influential and has defined the foundational techniques used in many other dance genres and cultures. Ballet has been taught in various schools around the world, which have historically incorporated their own cultures and as a result, the art has evolved in a number of distinct ways. See glossary of ballet.

A ballet, a work, consists of the choreography and music for a ballet production. Ballets are choreographed and performed by trained ballet dancers. Traditional classical ballets are usually performed with classical music accompaniment and use elaborate costumes and staging, whereas modern ballets, such as the neoclassical works of American choreographer George Balanchine, often are performed in simple costumes (e.g., leotards and tights) and without the use of elaborate sets or scenery.

Edgar Degas - The Ballet Class - Google Art Project
Classical bell tutus in The Dance Class by Degas, 1874

Etymology

Ballet is a French word which had its origin in Italian balletto, a diminutive of ballo (dance) which comes from Latin ballo, ballare, meaning "to dance",[1][2] which in turn comes from the Greek "βαλλίζω" (ballizo), "to dance, to jump about".[2][3] The word came into English usage from the French around 1630.

History

Ballet de la nuit 1653
Louis XIV as Apollo in the Ballet Royal de la Nuit (1653)

Ballet originated in the Italian Renaissance courts of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Under Catherine de' Medici's influence as Queen, it spread to France, where it developed even further.[4] The dancers in these early court ballets were mostly noble amateurs. Ornamented costumes were meant to impress viewers, but they restricted performers' freedom of movement.[5]

The ballets were performed in large chambers with viewers on three sides. The implementation of the proscenium arch from 1618 on distanced performers from audience members, who could then better view and appreciate the technical feats of the professional dancers in the productions.

French court ballet reached its height under the reign of King Louis XIV. Louis founded the Académie Royale de Danse (Royal Dance Academy) in 1661 to establish standards and certify dance instructors.[6] In 1672, Louis XIV made Jean-Baptiste Lully the director of the Académie Royale de Musique (Paris Opera) from which the first professional ballet company, the Paris Opera Ballet, arose.[7] Pierre Beauchamp served as Lully's ballet-master. Together their partnership would drastically influence the development of ballet, as evidenced by the credit given to them for the creation of the five major positions of the feet. By 1681, the first "ballerinas" took the stage following years of training at the Académie.[5]

Ballet started to decline in France after 1830, but it continued to develop in Denmark, Italy, and Russia. The arrival in Europe of the Ballets Russes led by Sergei Diaghilev on the eve of the First World War revived interest in the ballet and started the modern era.[8]

In the twentieth century, ballet had a wide influence on other dance genres,[9] Also in the twentieth century, ballet took a turn dividing it from classical ballet to the introduction of modern dance, leading to modernist movements in several countries.[10]

Famous dancers of the twentieth century include Anna Pavlova, Galina Ulanova, Rudolf Nureyev, Maya Plisetskaya, Margot Fonteyn, Rosella Hightower, Maria Tall Chief, Erik Bruhn, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Suzanne Farrell, Gelsey Kirkland, Natalia Makarova, and Arthur Mitchell.[11]

Styles

MarieSalle
Marie Sallé, classical ballet dancer

Stylistic variations and subgenres have evolved over time. Early, classical variations are primarily associated with geographic origin. Examples of this are Russian ballet, French ballet, and Italian ballet. Later variations, such as contemporary ballet and neoclassical ballet, incorporate both classical ballet and non-traditional technique and movement. Perhaps the most widely known and performed ballet style is late Romantic ballet (or Ballet blanc).

Classical ballet

Swanlake015
The Valse des cygnes from Act II of the Ivanov/Petipa edition of Swan Lake

Classical ballet is based on traditional ballet technique and vocabulary.[12] Different styles have emerged in different countries, such as French ballet, Italian ballet, English ballet, and Russian ballet. Several of the classical ballet styles are associated with specific training methods, typically named after their creators (see below). The Royal Academy of Dance method is a ballet technique and training system that was founded by a diverse group of ballet dancers. They merged their respective dance methods (Italian, French, Danish and Russian) to create a new style of ballet that is unique to the organization and is recognized internationally as the English style of ballet.[8] Some examples of classical ballet productions are: Swan Lake and the Nutcracker.

Romantic ballet

Giselle -Carlotta Grisi -1841 -2
Carlotta Grisi, the original Giselle, 1841, wearing the romantic tutu

Romantic ballet was an artistic movement of classical ballet and several productions remain in the classical repertoire today. The Romantic era was marked by the emergence of pointe work, the dominance of female dancers, and longer, flowy tutus that attempt to exemplify softness and a delicate aura.[5] This movement occurred during the early to mid-nineteenth century (the Romantic era) and featured themes that emphasized intense emotion as a source of aesthetic experience. The plots of many romantic ballets revolved around spirit women (sylphs, wilis, and ghosts) who enslaved the hearts and senses of mortal men. The 1827 ballet La Sylphide is widely considered to be the first, and the 1870 ballet Coppélia is considered to be the last.[4] Famous ballet dancers of the Romantic era include Marie Taglioni, Fanny Elssler, and Jules Perrot. Jules Perrot is also known for his choreography, especially that of Giselle, often considered to be the most widely celebrated romantic ballet.[5]

Neoclassical ballet

Neoclassical ballet is usually abstract, with no clear plot, costumes or scenery. Music choice can be diverse and will often include music that is also neoclassical (e.g. Stravinsky, Roussel). Tim Scholl, author of From Petipa to Balanchine, considers George Balanchine's Apollo in 1928 to be the first neoclassical ballet. Apollo represented a return to form in response to Sergei Diaghilev's abstract ballets. Balanchine worked with modern dance choreographer Martha Graham, and brought modern dancers into his company such as Paul Taylor, who in 1959 performed in Balanchine's Episodes.[13]

While Balanchine is widely considered the face of neoclassical ballet, there were others who made significant contributions. Frederick Ashton’s Symphonic Variations (1946) is a seminal work for the choreographer. Set to César Franck’s score of the same title, it is a pure-dance interpretation of the score.[5]

Another form, Modern Ballet, also emerged as an offshoot of neoclassicism. Among the innovators in this form were Glen Tetley, Robert Joffrey and Gerald Arpino. While difficult to parse modern ballet from neoclassicism, the work of these choreographers favored a greater athleticism that departed from the delicacy of ballet. The physicality was more daring, with mood, subject matter and music more intense. An example of this would be Joffrey's Astarte (1967), which featured a rock score and sexual overtones in the choreography.[8]

Contemporary ballet

Grace in winter, contemporary ballet
A ballet leap performed with modern, non-classical form in a contemporary ballet

This ballet style is often performed barefoot. Contemporary ballets may include mime and acting, and are usually set to music (typically orchestral but occasionally vocal). It can be difficult to differentiate this form from neoclassical or modern ballet. Contemporary ballet is also close to contemporary dance because many contemporary ballet concepts come from the ideas and innovations of twentieth-century modern dance, including floor work and turn-in of the legs. The main distinction is that ballet technique is essential to perform a contemporary ballet.

George Balanchine is considered to have been a pioneer of contemporary ballet. Another early contemporary ballet choreographer, Twyla Tharp, choreographed Push Comes To Shove for the American Ballet Theatre in 1976, and in 1986 created In The Upper Room for her own company. Both of these pieces were considered innovative for their melding of distinctly modern movements with the use of pointe shoes and classically trained dancers.

Today there are many contemporary ballet companies and choreographers. These include Alonzo King and his company LINES Ballet; Matthew Bourne and his company New Adventures; Complexions Contemporary Ballet; Nacho Duato and his Compañia Nacional de Danza; William Forsythe and The Forsythe Company; and Jiří Kylián of the Nederlands Dans Theater. Traditionally "classical" companies, such as the Mariinsky (Kirov) Ballet and the Paris Opera Ballet, also regularly perform contemporary works.

The term ballet has evolved to include all forms associated with it. Someone training as a ballet dancer will now be expected to perform neoclassical, modern and contemporary work. A ballet dancer is expected to be able to be stately and regal for classical work, free and lyrical in neoclassical work, and unassuming, harsh or pedestrian for modern and contemporary work. In addition, there are several modern varieties of dance that fuse classical ballet technique with contemporary dance, such as Hiplet, that require dancers to be practised in non-Western dance styles.[14]

Technical methods of ballet instruction

There are six widely used, internationally recognized methods to teach or study ballet. These methods are the French School, the Vaganova Method, the Cecchetti Method, the Bournonville method, the Royal Academy of Dance method (English style), and the Balanchine method (American style). Many more schools of technique exist in various countries.

French method

Flower Festival 01

The French method is the basis of all ballet training. When Louis XIV created the Académie Royale de Danse in 1661, he helped to create the codified technique still used today by those in the profession, regardless of what method of training they adhere to. The French school was particularly revitalized under Rudolf Nureyev, in the 1980s. His influence revitalized and renewed appreciation for this style, and has drastically shaped ballet as a whole.[15] In fact, the French school is now sometimes referred to as Nureyev school. The French method is often characterized by technical precision, fluidity and gracefulness, and elegant, clean lines. For this style, fast footwork is often utilized in order to give the impression that the performers are drifting lightly across the stage.[16] Two important trademarks of this technique are the specific way in which the port de bras and the épaulement are performed, more rounded than when dancing in a Russian style, but not as rounded as the Danish style.[17]

Vaganova method

Agrippina Vaganova -Esmeralda 1910
Agrippina Vaganova, "Esmeralda" 1910

The Vaganova method is a style of ballet training that emerged from Russian ballet, created by Agrippina Vaganova. After retiring from dance in 1916, Vaganova turned to teaching at the Leningrad Choreographic School in 1921. Her training method is now internationally recognized and revered and her book, The Fundamentals of Classical Dance (1934), is a classic reference. This method is marked by the fusion of the classical French style, specifically elements from the Romantic era, with the athleticism of the Italian method, and the soulful passion of Russian ballet.[16] She developed an extremely precise method of instruction in her book Basic Principles of Russian Classical dance (1948). This includes outlining when to teach technical components to students in their ballet careers, for how long to focus on it, and the right amount of focus at each stage of the student's career. These textbooks continue to be extremely important to the instruction of ballet today.

The method emphasizes development of strength, flexibility, and endurance for the proper performance of ballet. She espoused the belief that equal importance should be placed on the arms and legs while performing ballet, as this will bring harmony and greater expression to the body as a whole.[18]

Cecchetti method

Cecchetti jpg
Enrico Cecchetti with Anna Pavlova

Developed by Enrico Cecchetti (1850-1928), this method is one known internationally for its intense reliance of the understanding of anatomy as it relates to classical ballet. The goal of this method is to instill important characteristics for the performance of ballet into students so that they do not need to rely on imitations of teachers. Important components for this method is the emphasis of balance, elevations, ballon, poise, and strength.

This method espouses the importance of recognizing that all parts of the body move together to create beautiful, graceful lines, and as such cautions against thinking of ballet in terms of the arms, legs, and neck and torso as separate parts. This method is well known for eight port de bras that are utilized.[16]

Bournonville method

August Bournonville by E. Lange
August Bournonville

The Bournonville method is a Danish method first devised by August Bournonville. Bournonville was heavily influenced by the early French ballet method due to his training with his father, Antoine Bournonville and other important French ballet masters. This method has many style differences that differentiate it from other ballet methods taught today.[19] A key component is the use of diagonal épaulements, with the upper body turning towards the working foot typically. This method also incorporates very basic use of arms, pirouettes from a low développé position into seconde, and use of fifth position bras en bas for the beginning and end of movements.

The Bournonville method produces dancers who have beautiful ballon ("the illusion of imponderable lightness"[20]).

Young girls competing at the Royal Academy of Dancing (London) exams held in Brisbane and Toowoomba, 1938 (7946600826)
Young girls competing at the Royal Academy of Dancing (London) exams held in Brisbane and Toowoomba, 1938

The Royal Academy of Dance method (RAD)

The Royal Academy of Dance method, also referred to as the English style of ballet, was established in 1920 by Genee, Karsavina, Bedells, E Espinosa, and Richardson. The goal of this method is to promote academic training in classical ballet throughout Great Britain. This style also spread to the United States, and is widely utilized still today. There are specific grade levels which a student must move through in order to complete training in this method.[21] The key principle behind this method of instruction is that basic ballet technique must be taught at a slow pace, with difficulty progression often much slower than the rest of the methods. The idea behind this is if a student is to put in a large amount of effort into perfecting the basic steps, the technique learned in these steps allow a student to utilize harder ones at a much easier rate.[16]

Balanchine method

Suzanne Farrell and George Balanchine NYWTS
Suzanne Farrell and George Balanchine dancing in a segment of "Don Quixote" at New York State Theater

Developed by George Balanchine at the New York City Ballet. His method draws heavily on his own training as a dancer in Russia. The technique is known for extreme speed throughout routines, emphasis on lines, and deep pliés. Perhaps one of the most well known differences of this style is the unorthodox positioning of the body.[16] Dancers of this style often have flexed hands and even feet, and are placed in off-balance positions. Important ballet studios teaching this method are the Miami City Ballet, Ballet Chicago Studio company, and the School of American Ballet in New York.[22]

Costumes

Anna Pavlova 1912
Anna Pavlova (prima ballerina); Early materials for ballet costumes were heavy, hindering the dancer's movements

Ballet costumes play an important role in the ballet community. They are often the only survival of a production, representing a living imaginary picture of the scene.[23]

Renaissance and Baroque

The roots of ballet go back to the Renaissance in France and Italy when court wear was the beginning of ballet costumes. Ballet costumes have been around since the early fifteenth century. Cotton and silk were mixed with flax, woven into semitransparent gauze[23] to create exquisite ballet costumes.

Seventeenth century

During the seventeenth century, different types of fabrics and designs were used to make costumes more spectacular and eye catching. Court dress still remained for women during this century. Silks, satins and fabrics embroidered with real gold and precious stones increased the level of spectacular decoration associated with ballet costumes.[23] Women's costumes also consisted of heavy garments and knee-long skirts which made it difficult for them to create much movement and gesture.

Eighteenth century

During the eighteenth century, stage costumes were still very similar to court wear but progressed over time, mostly due to the French dancer and ballet-master Jean-Georges Noverre (1727–1810) whose proposals to modernize ballet are contained in his revolutionary Lettres sur la danse et les ballets (1760). Noverre's book altered the emphasis in a production away from the costumes towards the physical movements and emotions of the dancers.

European ballet was centered in the Paris Opera.[23] During this era, skirts were raised a few inches off the ground. Flowers, flounces, ribbons, and lace emphasized this opulent feminine style, as soft pastel tones in citron, peach, pink and pistachio dominated the color range.[23]

Nineteenth century

Olga Spessiva in Swan Lake costume, 1934 photographer Sydney Fox Studio, 3rd Floor, 88 King St, Sydney
Olga Spessiva; Swan Lake Costume in the twentieth century

During the early nineteenth century, close-fitting body costumes, floral crowns, corsages and jewels were used. Ideals of Romanticism were reflected through female movements.[23] Costumes became much tighter as corsets started to come into use, to show off the curves on a ballerina. Jewels and bedazzled costumes became much more popular.

Twentieth century

During the twentieth century, ballet costumes transitioned back to the influence of Russian ballet. Ballerina skirts became knee-length tutus, later on in order to show off their precise pointe work. Colors used on stage costumes also became much more vibrant. Designers used colors such as red, orange, yellow, etc. to create visual expression when ballet dancers perform on stage.

Ballet as a career

Professional dancers are generally not well paid. As of 2017, American dancers (including ballet and other dance forms) were paid an average of US$14.25 per hour.[24] The job outlook is not strong, and the competition to get a job is intense, with the number of applicants vastly exceeding the number of job openings.[24] Some dancers earn money by participating in dancing competitions and are awarded with money or high paying contracts.[24] Choreographers were paid nearly twice the amount of dancers in 2017.[24]

Health effects

Teenage girl ballet dancers are prone to stress fractures in the first rib.[25] Eating disorders are common from ballet. In addition, some researchers have noted that intensive training in ballet results in lower bone mineral density in the arms.[26]

Cultural issues

In the twenty-first century, ballet has been criticized for being anti-woman and ageist. The complaint about ageism is because most choreography is written so that it can only be performed by a relatively young dancer.[27] The structure of ballet – in which a (usually) male choreographer or director uses (mostly) women's bodies to express his artistic vision, while ignoring, objectifying, or silencing the women involved – has been criticized for not respecting women.[27][28]

See also

References

  1. ^ Chantrell, Glynnis (2002). The Oxford Essential Dictionary of Word Histories. New York: Berkley Books. ISBN 978-0-425-19098-2.
  2. ^ a b Liddell, Henry George; Scott, Robert. "A Greek-English Lexicon". Perseus Digital Library. Archived from the original on 2011-06-29.
  3. ^ Harper, Douglas. "Online Etymology Dictionary". Archived from the original on 2014-04-13.
  4. ^ a b Homans, Jennifer (2010). Apollo's Angels: A History of Ballet. New York: Random House. pp. 1–4. ISBN 978-1-4000-6060-3.
  5. ^ a b c d e Clarke, Mary; Crisp, Clement (1992). Ballet: An Illustrated History. Great Britain: Hamish Hamilton. pp. 17–19. ISBN 978-0-241-13068-1.
  6. ^ "The Art of Power: How Louis XIV Ruled France ... With Ballet". 2017-03-15. Archived from the original on 2017-10-02. Retrieved 2017-10-02.
  7. ^ Craine, Deborah; MacKrell, Judith (2000). The Oxford Dictionary of Dance. Oxford University Press. p. 2. ISBN 978-0-19-860106-7. It is from this institution that French ballet has evolved rather than the Académie Royale de Danse.
  8. ^ a b c Greskovic, Robert (1998). Ballet 101: A Complete Guide to Learning and Loving the Ballet. New York, New York: Hyperion. pp. 46–57. ISBN 978-0-7868-8155-0.
  9. ^ "Ballet And Modern Dance: Using Ballet As The Basis For Other Dance Techniques". Student Resources. 2014-08-05. Archived from the original on 2017-10-02. Retrieved 2017-07-26.
  10. ^ Wulff, Helena (1998). Ballet Across Borders: Career and Culture in the World of Dancers. Oxford: Berg. p. 44. ISBN 978-1-85973-998-3.
  11. ^ "The ten greatest ballet dancers of the twentieth century". Classic FM. Archived from the original on 2017-10-02. Retrieved 2017-10-02.
  12. ^ Grant, Gail (1982). Technical Manual and Dictionary of Classical Ballet. New York, US: Dover Publications. ISBN 978-0-486-21843-4.
  13. ^ Scholl, Tim (1994). From Petipa to Balanchine: Classical Revival and the Modernization of Ballet. London: Routledge. ISBN 978-0415756211.
  14. ^ Kourlas, Gia (2016-09-02). "Hiplet: An Implausible Hybrid Plants Itself on Pointe". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on 2016-12-21. Retrieved 2016-12-03.
  15. ^ "Ballet Methods: What Are They? | TutuTix". TutuTix. 2016-05-09. Archived from the original on 2017-11-11. Retrieved 2017-07-26.
  16. ^ a b c d e "Different Ballet Methods". www.ottawaballetschool.com. Archived from the original on 2017-07-11. Retrieved 2017-07-26.
  17. ^ "The Paris Opéra Ballet School". Dance Spirit. 2010-01-01. Archived from the original on 2017-11-11. Retrieved 2017-07-26.
  18. ^ "Vaganova Method". ibtacademy.org (in Russian). Archived from the original on 2017-11-11. Retrieved 2017-07-26.
  19. ^ "Bournonville.com". www.bournonville.com. Archived from the original on 2017-10-27. Retrieved 2017-07-26.
  20. ^ "Bournonville: The Danish Way of Dancing - Ballet Position". Ballet Position. 2016-06-17. Retrieved 2018-09-11.
  21. ^ "Ballet Training Techniques - The Royal Academy of Dance (RAD) - DANCE VILLAGE - dance portal and online community". www.dancevillage.com. Archived from the original on 2016-02-27. Retrieved 2017-07-26.
  22. ^ "History of Ballet Dance - Dance History Articles". dancelessons.net. Archived from the original on 2017-02-22. Retrieved 2017-07-26.
  23. ^ a b c d e f "Ballet Costume History - Tutu Étoile". Tutu Étoile. Archived from the original on 2016-11-14. Retrieved 2016-11-18.
  24. ^ a b c d "Dancers and Choreographers: Occupational Outlook Handbook". U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. 13 April 2018. Retrieved 2018-11-05.
  25. ^ Kiel, John; Kaiser, Kimberly (2018), "Stress Reaction and Fractures", StatPearls, StatPearls Publishing, PMID 29939612, retrieved 2018-11-05
  26. ^ Wewege, Michael A.; Ward, Rachel E. (August 2018). "Bone mineral density in pre-professional female ballet dancers: A systematic review and meta-analysis". Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport. 21 (8): 783–788. doi:10.1016/j.jsams.2018.02.006. ISSN 1878-1861. PMID 29526411.
  27. ^ a b O'Connell Whittet, Ellen (11 October 2018). "Is There Such A Thing As Ballet That Doesn't Hurt Women?". BuzzFeed News. Retrieved 2018-11-05.
  28. ^ Fisher, Jennifer (2007). "Tulle as Tool: Embracing the Conflict of the Ballerina as Powerhouse". Dance Research Journal. 39 (1): 2–24. JSTOR 20444681.

Further reading

  • Anderson, Jack (1992). Ballet & Modern Dance: A Concise History (2nd ed.). Princeton, NJ: Princeton Book Company, Publishers. ISBN 978-0-87127-172-3.
  • Au, Susan (2002). Ballet & Modern Dance (2nd ed.). London: Thames & Hudson world of art. ISBN 978-0-500-20352-1.
  • Bland, Alexander (1976). A History of Ballet and Dance in the Western World. New York: Praeger Publishers. ISBN 978-0-275-53740-1.
  • Darius, Adam (2007). Arabesques Through Time. Harlequinade Books, Helsinki. ISBN 951-98232-4-7
  • Gordon, Suzanne (1984). Off Balance: The Real World of Ballet. McGraw-Hill. ISBN 978-0-07-023770-4.
  • Kant, Marion (2007). Cambridge Companion to Ballet. Cambridge Companions to Music (1st ed.). Cambridge,UK: Cambridge University Press, Publishers. ISBN 978-0-521-53986-9.
  • Kirstein, Lincoln; Stuart, Muriel (1952). The Classic Ballet. New York: Alfred A Knopf.
  • Lee, Carol (2002). Ballet In Western Culture: A History of its Origins and Evolution. New York: Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-94256-0.

External links

Ballet dancer

A ballet dancer (Italian: ballerina [balleˈriːna] fem., ballerino [balleˈriːno] masc.) is a person who practices the art of classical ballet. Both females and males can practice ballet; however, dancers have a strict hierarchy and strict gender roles. They rely on years of extensive training and proper technique to become a part of professional companies. Ballet dancers are at a high risk of injury due to the demanding technique of ballet.

Black Swan (film)

Black Swan is a 2010 American psychological horror film directed by Darren Aronofsky. The screenplay was written by Mark Heyman, John McLaughlin, and Andres Heinz, based on an original story by Heinz. The film stars Natalie Portman, Vincent Cassel, Mila Kunis, Barbara Hershey, and Winona Ryder. The plot revolves around a production of Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake ballet by the prestigious New York City Ballet company. The production requires a ballerina to play the innocent and fragile White Swan, for which the committed dancer Nina (Portman) is a perfect fit, as well as the dark and sensual Black Swan, which are qualities better embodied by the new arrival Lily (Kunis). Nina is overwhelmed by a feeling of immense pressure when she finds herself competing for the part, causing her to lose her tenuous grip on reality and descend into a living nightmare.

Usually described as a psychological horror film, Black Swan can also be interpreted as a metaphor for achieving artistic perfection, with all of the psychological and physical challenges one might encounter, i.e. "the film can be perceived as a poetic metaphor for the birth of an artist, that is, as a visual representation of Nina's psychic odyssey toward achieving artistic perfection and of the price to be paid for it."Aronofsky conceived the premise by connecting his viewings of a production of Swan Lake with an unrealized screenplay about understudies and the notion of being haunted by a double, similar to the folklore surrounding doppelgängers. Aronofsky cites Fyodor Dostoyevsky's The Double as another inspiration for the film. The director also considered Black Swan a companion piece to his 2008 film The Wrestler, with both films involving demanding performances for different kinds of art. He and Portman first discussed the project in 2000, and after a brief attachment to Universal Studios, Black Swan was produced in New York City in 2009 by Fox Searchlight Pictures. Portman and Kunis trained in ballet for several months before filming began, and notable figures from the ballet world helped with film production to shape the ballet presentation.

The film premiered as the opening film for the 67th Venice International Film Festival on September 1, 2010. It had a limited release in the United States starting December 3, 2010 and opened in wide release on December 17. The film upon release was a critical and commercial success. Critics praised Portman's performance and Aronofsky's direction, while the film grossed over $329 million worldwide. It received five nominations at the 83rd Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing and winning Best Actress (for Portman).

British ballet

British ballet is most recognised for two leading methods, those of the Royal Ballet School and the Royal Academy of Dance. The identifying characteristic of British ballet is the focus on clean, precise technique and purity of line that is free of exaggeration and mannerisms. The training of dancers in Britain is noted for its slow progression, with a great deal of attention paid to basic technique. British ballet methods operate on the principle that establishing correct technique and strength slowly makes it much easier for the student to adapt to more difficult vocabulary and techniques later on.

Choreography

Choreography is the art or practice of designing sequences of movements of physical bodies (or their depictions) in which motion, form, or both are specified. Choreography may also refer to the design itself. A choreographer is one who creates choreographies by practicing the art of choreography, a process known as choreographing. Choreography is used in a variety of fields, including musical theater, cheerleading, cinematography, gymnastics, fashion shows, ice skating, marching band, show choir, theatre, synchronized swimming, cardistry, video game production and animated art. In the performing arts, choreography applies to human movement and form. In dance, choreography is also known as dance choreography or dance composition.

Contemporary ballet

Contemporary ballet is a genre of dance that incorporates elements of classical ballet and modern dance. It employs classical ballet technique and in many cases classical pointe technique as well, but allows greater range of movement of the upper body and is not constrained to the rigorously defined body lines and forms found in traditional, classical ballet. Many of its attributes come from the ideas and innovations of 20th-century modern dance, including floor work and turn-in of the legs.

French ballet

In the French courts during the 17th Century, ballet first begins to flourish with the help of several important men: King Louis XIV, Jean-Baptiste Lully, Pierre Beauchamps, and Molière. The combination of different talents and passions of these four men shaped ballet to what it is today.

Glossary of ballet

Because ballet became formalized in France, a significant part of ballet terminology is in the French language.

Italian ballet

Italian ballet is the training methods and aesthetic qualities seen in classical ballet in Italy. Ballet has a long history in Italy, and it is widely believed that the earliest predecessor of modern-day ballet originated in the Italian courts of the Renaissance. Two predominant training systems are used to teach Italian ballet today: the Cecchetti method, devised by Enrico Cecchetti, and that of the La Scala Theatre Ballet School.

Miami City Ballet

Miami City Ballet is an American ballet company based in Miami Beach, Florida, led by artistic director Lourdes Lopez. MCB was founded in 1985 by Toby Lerner Ansin, a Miami philanthropist. Ansin and the founding board hired Edward Villella, former New York City Ballet principal dancer to be the founding artistic director.A bulk of the company's repertoire is made up of the work of George Balanchine, though the company also performs works by Jerome Robbins, Twyla Tharp, Trey McIntyre, Mark Morris, Jimmy Gamonet, who was the company's founding Resident Choreographer and Ballet Master from 1986 to 1999, Christopher Wheeldon, Justin Peck, and others, in addition to traditional full-length works including "Giselle" and "Don Quixote (ballet)".In 2012, Lourdes Lopez was chosen to replace founding artistic director Edward Villella.Miami City Ballet features an international ensemble of over 50 dancers. The company has an active repertoire of 88 ballets and performs over 75 times annually. Miami City Ballet serves as the resident ballet company in theaters in the Fort Lauderdale, Miami, and West Palm Beach areas. In addition, the company regularly tours both domestically and internationally. Its North American appearances include the Kennedy Center, the 1996 Olympic Arts Festival, Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival, the Los Angeles Music Center, Spoleto Festival USA, Harris Theater (Chicago) and the New York City Center; while theaters and festivals in Europe, Central America, and South America have hosted the company.Along with the ballet company, Miami City Ballet hosts a ballet school for students aging between 3 and 18. The school is split into three divisions: Children's division (ages 3 to 8), Student division (ages 8 to 13), and Pre-Professional division (ages 13 to 18). Students must audition to be placed in a division. Like the company, the school focuses on the Balanchine method (or Balanchine technique). MCB school students have the opportunity to perform in the yearly Nutcracker performance that the Miami City Ballet company puts together, and there are a number of intensive summer programs that students are eligible to attend.

Mikhail Baryshnikov

Mikhail Nikolayevich Baryshnikov (Russian: Михаи́л Никола́евич Бары́шников, IPA: [mʲɪxɐˈil bɐrɨʂˈnʲɪkəf]; Latvian: Mihails Barišņikovs; born January 27, 1948), nicknamed "Misha" (Russian diminutive of the name "Mikhail"), is a Soviet-born Russian and American dancer, choreographer, and actor. He is often cited alongside Vaslav Nijinsky, Rudolf Nureyev and Vladimir Vasiliev as one of the greatest male ballet dancers in history.

Born in Riga, Latvian SSR, Baryshnikov had a promising start in the Kirov Ballet in Leningrad before defecting to Canada in 1974 for more opportunities in western dance. After freelancing with many companies, he joined the New York City Ballet as a principal dancer to learn George Balanchine's style of movement. He then danced with the American Ballet Theatre, where he later became artistic director. Baryshnikov has spearheaded many of his own artistic projects and has been associated in particular with promoting modern dance, premiering dozens of new works, including many of his own. His success as a dramatic actor on stage, cinema and television has helped him become probably the most widely recognized contemporary ballet dancer. Since his defection from the Soviet Union in 1974, Baryshnikov has never returned to Russia.In 1977, he received a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor and a Golden Globe nomination for his work as "Yuri Kopeikine" in the film The Turning Point. He also had a significant role in the last season of the television series Sex and the City and starred in the movie White Nights with Gregory Hines, Helen Mirren, and Isabella Rossellini.

Moscow Ballet

The name Moscow Ballet has commonly been applied to a number of different ballet companies, which include:

Moscow Ballet (United States), a Russian ballet company. The Moscow Ballet tours annually in the United States with its Great Russian Nutcracker production.

The Bolshoi Ballet, based in Moscow, Russia has often been referred to generically as "The Moscow Ballet".

A Russian company known as Ballet Moskva ("Ballet Moscow").

A "Moscow Ballet", founded in 1979, gained publicity in 1987 when a dancer, Andrei Ustinov, defected during the company’s first U.S. tour. Its artistic director is Vyacheslav Gordeyev, previously of the Bolshoi Ballet. Its 1987 tour was seen by an estimated 150,000 people.

Other dance companies incorporating the word Ballet and either Moscow or Russia(n) include:

Moscow Stanislavski Ballet, founded in 1929

Ballet of Russia, founded in 1899

Ballet Stars of Moscow Theaters with Anna Pavlova, 1888–1931

Moscow Ballet Theater founded in 1966

Moscow City Ballet, founded in 1988,

Moscow Classical Ballet, founded in 1966.

Moscow Dramatic Ballet, founded prior to 1992

Moscow Festival Ballet, founded in 1989,

Moscow Grand Ballet

National Russian Ballet

Moscow Folk Ballet

Russian Festival Ballet, founded in 1989

Russian National Ballet founded in 1956

The Imperial Russian Ballet Company

New York City Ballet

New York City Ballet (NYCB) is a ballet company founded in 1948 by choreographer George Balanchine and Lincoln Kirstein. Balanchine and Jerome Robbins are considered the founding choreographers of the company. Léon Barzin was the company's first music director. City Ballet grew out of earlier troupes: the Producing Company of the School of American Ballet, 1934; the American Ballet, 1935, and Ballet Caravan, 1936, which merged into American Ballet Caravan, 1941; and directly from the Ballet Society, 1946.

Opéra-ballet

Opéra-ballet (French; plural: opéras-ballets) is a genre of French Baroque lyric theatre that was most popular during the 18th century, combining elements of opera and ballet, "that grew out of the ballets à entrées of the early seventeenth century". It differed from the more elevated tragédie en musique as practised by Jean-Baptiste Lully in several ways. It contained more dance music than the tragédie, and the plots were not necessarily derived from classical mythology and allowed for the comic elements, which Lully had excluded from the tragédie en musique after Thésée (1675). The opéra-ballet consisted of a prologue followed by a number of self-contained acts (also known as entrées), often loosely grouped around a single theme. The individual acts could also be performed independently, in which case they were known as actes de ballet.

The first work in the genre is generally held to be André Campra's L'Europe galante ("Europe in Love") of 1697, but Les Saisons of 1695 is so typical of the genre that it is mentioned as the most distinctive prototype of this sort of composition, although the latter has a mythological plot. Famous later examples are Les élémens (1721) by Destouches, Les Indes galantes (1735), and Les fêtes d'Hébé (1739) by Jean-Philippe Rameau.

Pas de deux

In ballet, a pas de deux [pɑ d(ə) dø] (French, literally "step of two") is a dance duet in which two dancers, typically a male and a female, perform ballet steps together. The pas de deux is characteristic of classical ballet and can be found in many well-known ballets, including Sleeping Beauty, Swan Lake, and Giselle. It is most often performed by a male and a female (a danseur and a ballerina) though there are exceptions, such as in the film White Nights, in which a pas de deux is performed by Mikhail Baryshnikov and Gregory Hines.

Rudolf Nureyev

Rudolf Khametovich Nureyev (Tatar: Рудольф Хәмит улы Нуриев Rudolf Xämid ulı Nuriyev, Russian: Рудо́льф Хаме́тович Нуре́ев, IPA: [rʊˈdolʲf nʊˈrʲɛjɪf]; 17 March 1938 – 6 January 1993) was a Soviet ballet and contemporary dancer and choreographer. Named Lord of the Dance, Nureyev is widely regarded as the greatest male ballet dancer of his generation.Nureyev was born on a Trans-Siberian train near Irkutsk, Siberia, Soviet Union to a Tatar Muslim family. Nureyev began his early career with the Mariinsky Ballet in St. Petersburg. He defected from the Soviet Union to the West in 1961, despite KGB efforts to stop him. This was the first defection of a Soviet artist during the Cold War and it created an international sensation. He went on to dance with The Royal Ballet in London and from 1983 to 1989 served as director of the Paris Opera Ballet. In addition to his technical prowess, Rudolf Nureyev was an accomplished choreographer serving as the chief choreographer of the Paris Opera Ballet. He produced his own interpretations of numerous classical works, including Swan Lake, Giselle, and La Bayadère.

Russian ballet

Russian ballet (French: Ballet russe) is a form of ballet characteristic of or originating from Russia.

Swan Lake

Swan Lake (Russian: Лебединое озеро, romanized: Lebedinoye ozero), Op. 20, is a ballet composed by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky in 1875–76. Despite its initial failure, it is now one of the most popular of all ballets.

The scenario, initially in two acts, was fashioned from Russian and German folk tales and tells the story of Odette, a princess turned into a swan by an evil sorcerer's curse. The choreographer of the original production was Julius Reisinger (Václav Reisinger). The ballet was premiered by the Bolshoi Ballet on 4 March [O.S. 20 February] 1877 at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow. Although it is presented in many different versions, most ballet companies base their stagings both choreographically and musically on the 1895 revival of Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov, first staged for the Imperial Ballet on 15 January 1895, at the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg. For this revival, Tchaikovsky's score was revised by the St. Petersburg Imperial Theatre's chief conductor and composer Riccardo Drigo.

The Nutcracker

The Nutcracker (Russian: Щелкунчик, Балет-феерия / Shchelkunchik, Balet-feyeriya listen ) is a two-act ballet, originally choreographed by Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov with a score by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (Op. 71). The libretto is adapted from E. T. A. Hoffmann's story "The Nutcracker and the Mouse King".

Although the original production was not a success, the 20-minute suite that Tchaikovsky extracted from the ballet was. However, the complete Nutcracker has enjoyed enormous popularity since the late 1960s and is now performed by countless ballet companies, primarily during the Christmas season, especially in North America. Major American ballet companies generate around 40% of their annual ticket revenues from performances of The Nutcracker. The ballet's score has been used in several film adaptations of Hoffmann's story.

Tchaikovsky's score has become one of his most famous compositions. Among other things, the score is noted for its use of the celesta, an instrument that the composer had already employed in his much lesser known symphonic ballad The Voyevoda.

Tutu (clothing)

The tutu is a dress worn as a costume in a classical ballet performance, often with attached bodice. It may be made of tarlatan, muslin, silk, tulle, gauze, or nylon. Modern tutus have two basic types: the Romantic tutu is soft and bell-shaped, reaching the calf or ankle; the Classical tutu is short and stiff, projecting horizontally from the waist and hip.

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