The romantic period refers to the period between 1820 and 1900, the period during which musical compositions included “the use of large ensembles, extreme emotions, and wild orchestration” (Romantic Period – Music from 1820 to 1900, n.d). The word Ballet is of French origin. Though historical studies show that in the early 1400s, Domenico di Piacenza who was an Italian, came up with a description of dances that he called Balletto (Augustyn and Tanaka, 2002, p146). During such dances, men were dressed in wigs, blouses, jackets, and bloomers. Women on the other hand were dressed in ornamental dresses which were made of many layers thereby making them have a lot of weight. The dancing groups consisted of hundreds of performers some of whom came from the duke’s court while some were hired. They always performed the dances before the meals were served.
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Historical, Geographical, and cultural influences on both the Era and Ballet during the romantic period
The inventive analysis of the performance designed by Leonardo da Vinci for the duke of Milan was to epitomize the synchronization of the extraterrestrial bodies, to create order following turmoil, and to impart serenity upon those in attendance (The History of Ballet, n.d). However, the issues that were arising were whether the dance was called ballet or ballet or if it was an art or a competition. (Beaumont, 1947, p 64).
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The Italian style of dance, ballet, was introduced in France by Catherine Medicis who moved there following her marriage to the king of France, Henri II in 1553; however, historians though are on the view that the ballet did not originate from the Italian Balletto but tend to believe that it emanated from the Palais du Petit Bourbon (The History of Ballet, n.d). Beaujoyeulx, who was a violinist and a dance instructor, organized a show about the Greek Circe; however, the European courts felt that such a kind of performance could not have been copied from Italy, arguing that it may not have been that simply copying the spectacular stage performances, the songs, poetry and the uniquely designed dresses (Kirstein, 2003, p 196).
King Louis the fourteenth went ahead to prove right the allegation that Paris could have been the origin of the ballet. This king ruled France in the 1600s and his workers normally took part in the ballets which were organized at the king’s palace. The king acquired the name the sun king when he played a role in a dance that he performed wearing high-heeled shoes. He opened the Royal Academy of Dance which was later renamed Paris Opera Ballet. This became the first place to start teaching professional ballet. As the King danced in his shoes, he tried to point his shoes outwardly to show off his shiny buckles, which became one of the five positions in ballet dance as decided upon by Pierre Beachamps who was a ballet master. During all this time, all the dances were performed by men since it was believed that the women lacked the strength to wear the big headdresses, heavy skirts, and heavy corsets. However, in the year 1681, women professionally performed in an event that was organized by Le Triomphe de l’Amour.
The revolution of the ballet continued and by the year 1700, many of the words used to refer to various movements were being used already, which included jete, sissone, chasse, entrechat, pirouette, and cabriole (Lee, 2002, 346). In addition, the ballet was modified by Raoul Feuillet to include some steps and postures as being witnessed in today’s ballet techniques. The result of this was the establishment of various ballet companies all over Europe.
Six years after this, a change was evolving in the performance of the ballet dance. Jean George Noverre, who was a French choreographer, disapproved of the professional dancers of ballet who, according to him, were not dancing the right way. According to him, the dance was meant to express feelings and he, therefore, felt that to achieve this, the dancers should not wear masks, weighty dresses, and headdresses. In addition, blending the performance of the dance with the dancer’s expression of emotions (e.g. happiness, rage, or even love) was an important aspect that would make the ballet more appealing. He later developed the ballet d’action which was a form of ballet that was used to tell a story through body movements (Rygg, 2000, p.171).
During the romantic period, the ballet dance underwent a lot of changes, with Carlo Blasis designing the technique of ballet that is still in use today (Infoplease, 2007) by emphasizing the turned-out leg which enabled a dancer to make a wide variety of movements. After the invention of La Sylphide in 1832, the romantic period began experiencing an immense revolution in the choreography that accentuated the splendor and skill of prima ballerina. In the production of La Sylphide, Maria Taglioni wrote the gauzy calf-length attire that was to be used in dancing the classical ballet (Infoplease, 2007). Moreover, “the great ballerinas of the era included Taglioni, Fanny Elssler, Carlotta Grisi, and Fanny Cerrito (Clarke, Vaughan, 1977, p 267). In keeping with the “literature and art of the Romantic Movement, the new ballet concerned the conflicts of reality and illusion, flesh and spirit” (Infoplease, 2007).
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Style of Ballet focusing on choreographic, compositional, and designs elements that depict the romantic era
During that time, another dancing style included sur les pointes, which means dancing on toes was gaining momentum. By the end of the century, the blocked toe had been invented and at the same time, a short free skirt had been designed for dancing ballet (Edwards, 2008, p 178). The males’ role in the dance was to support the ballerina who was the center of attention in the dance. Ballet lost favoritism to other forms of dances after 1850 as a result of ballet d’action allowing a lot of diversions, stars retired, the dresses and the choreography became typecast and monotonous (Kassing, 2007, p 254). In addition, the ordinary tendency in the show business had all but obliterated the ingenious touch crucial to ballet (Grosser, 1999, p 98).
The origin of the ballet is not so clear; some argue that it originated from Italy while the French also argue that it originated from their country. Ballet is a dance that involves the use of body movements to tell a story (Greskovic, 2005, p 79). The dancer is also required to use facial expressions to express joy, sorrow, and love. Since its development, ballet has undergone a lot of transformations the years. Since 1850, the interest in ballet has gradually gone down as a result of ballet d’action allowing a lot of diversions, stars retiring, the dresses and the choreography becoming typecast and monotonous.
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Chazin-Bennahum, J. (2005). The lure of perfection: fashion and ballet, 1780-1830. London, Routledge
Clarke, M. Vaughan, D. (1977). The Encyclopedia of dance & ballet. California, Pitman.
Edwards, H. (2008). Famous first Representations. New York, BiblioBazaar.
Greskovic, R. (2005). Ballet 101: a complete guide to learning and loving the ballet. Wisconsin, Hal Leonard Corporation
Grosser, J. (1999). ABC of Ballet. Paris, Courier Dover Publications.
Infoplease. (2007). Columbia: The Romantic Period and Ballet’s Eclipse. Web.
Kassing, G. (2007). History of dance: an interactive arts approach. Illinois, Human Kinetics.
Kirstein, L. (2003). Four centuries of ballet: fifty masterworks. New York, Dover.
Lee, C. (2002). Ballet in western culture: a history of its origins and evolution. London, Routledge.
Romantic Period – Music from 1820 to 1900. (N.d). Romantic Period – Music from 1820 to 1900. Web.
Rygg, C. (2000). Masqued mysteries unmasked: early modern music theater and its Pythagorean subtext. London.Pendragon Press.
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The History of Ballet. (N.d). The History of Ballet. 2010. Web.