The History of Ballet
Ballet is a form of dancing performed for theatre audiences. Like other dance forms, ballet may tell a story, express a mood, or simply reflect the music. But a ballet dancer's technique (way of performing) and special skills differ greatly from those of otherdancers. Ballet dancers perform many movements that are unnatural for the body. But when these movements are well executed, they look natural. The beginnings of ballet can be traced to Italy during the 1400's at the time of the Renaissance. During the Renaissance, people developed a great interest in art and learning. At the same time, trade and commerce expanded rapidly, and the dukes who ruledFlorence and other Italian city-states grew in wealth. The dukes did much to promote the arts. Catherine de Medici, a member of the ruling family of Florence, became the queen of France in 1547. Catherine introduced into the French court the same kind of entertainments that she had known in Italy. They were staged by Balthazar de Beaujoyeulx, a gifted musician. Beaujoyeulx had come from Italy to be Catherine's chief musician. Ballet historians consider one of Beaujoyeulx's entertainments, the Ballet Comique de la Reine, to be the first ballet. Dance technique was extremely limited, and so Beaujoyeulx depended on spectacular costumes and scenery to impress the audience. To make sure that the audience understood the story, he provided printed copies of the verses used in the ballet. The ballet was a great success, and was much imitated in other European courts. The Ballet Comique de la Reine established Paris as the capital of the ballet world. King Louis XIV, who ruled France during the late 1600's and early 1700's, strengthened that leadership. Louis greatly enjoyed dancing. He took part in all the ballets given at his court, which his nobles performed, but stopped after he became fat and middle-aged. In 1661, Louis founded the Royal Academy of Dancing to train...
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