Compare and Contrast of Classical Ballet and Modern Dance

Topics: Ballet, Dance, Isadora Duncan Pages: 5 (1836 words) Published: May 7, 2014
Compare and Contrast of Classical Ballet and Modern Dance
Dance is one of the most beautiful, expressive forms of art known to mankind. It expresses joy, love, sorrow, anger, and the list truly goes on for all the possible emotions that it can convey. Dance not only can express how one feels, but it can tell a story or even be used to praise a higher power. Dance has intricately played an important role to every culture over the course of time. Two forms of dance that have not only stood against the test of time but have influenced the development of other various styles of dance is none other than Classical Ballet and Modern Dance. Classical Ballet is the epitome of class and sophistication, it is known for its meticulous techniques such as high extensions, Pointe work and the turn out of the legs, and also its graceful leaps and bounds and precise movements. Modern dance is ironically enough everything Classical Ballet is not, and it was purposely designed that way. Modern dance rejects the strict constraints of Classical Ballet, and boasted of free flowing movements, structure-less choreography, and just pure liberty to move to one’s emotions without all the decadence of elaborate costumes or scenery. Classical ballet and Modern dance are both unique in their core beliefs and structure, while they share the same vigor for the art of dance, they have quite a few differences that I would like to take the time in this essay to explore . By the mid 19th century, the art of French ballet also known as Romantic ballet had lost its appeal to many. Ballet was regarded as a casual, frivolous entertainment due to the fact that it had lost its creative edge and the ties to “immoral” behavior from the female dancers. The end of the Romantic era was the new beginning for what we now know today as Classical ballet. In 1847 the Russian Ballet recruited French national Marius Petipa to be their choreographer in Saint Petersburg. Petipa is one of the most influential figures in the history of ballet; many credit him for not only the revival of ballet but as a masterful architect of what Classical Ballet is. Petipa was a proficient story teller in his works, his productions were often lengthy and maudlin but the audiences loved it. He introduced the theory of more theatrical acting and pantomiming, which gave the performances a more entrancing quality by making the audience feel like they were truly experiencing the story themselves. Petipa’s style was extremely rigorous and formulated, which was a drastic change from the conventional style of romantic ballet. He preferred structure, and clean lines in his performances and he demanded no less from his dancers; the requirements to be one Petipa’s dancers was that they must be highly skilled, graceful, must demonstrate great balance and strength. With Petipa’s vision and masterful direction Classical ballet became a treasure. Some his productions that are still performed today are The Nutcracker, Swan Lake, The Sleeping Beauty and Don Quixote to name a few. Modern Dance came to light at the turn of the 20th century, many dancers began to rebel against strict confinements of Classical ballet. They regarded the art of ballet as pretentious and decadent, believing that ballet had lost the true essence of the spirit of dance and only catered and appealed to the bourgeois crowd. With the world’s upheaval in World War I, it left many pondering for a new outlet for what they were feeling; modern dance pioneers such as Ruth St. Denis, and Isadora Duncan explored with the idea that there should be a new dance form where one could express their ideas and emotions without the confines of formulaic structure, also being free to integrate other influences of music, art and theatre from other cultures. Others like Martha Graham, Jose Limon continued the further development of this particular form of dance. This rebellion was the birth of Modern dance, an American art form. Movement is one the areas...

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Anderson, Jack. Ballet and Modern Dance: A Concise History. New Jersey: Horizons, 1992. Print.
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Martha Graham- Finding the Meaning through Dancing. Perf. Martha Graham. YouTube. YouTube, 14 Aug. 2009. Web. 17 Nov. 2012. .
Michelman, Fran. "Marius Petipa - ABT." Marius Petipa - ABT. Ballet Theatre Foundation, Inc, n.d. Web. 16 Nov. 2012. .
The Nutcracker - Waltz of the Flowers - Royal Ballet. Dir. Eliathestar. Perf. Royal Ballet. YouTube. YouTube, 23 Dec. 2010. Web. 14 Nov. 2012. .
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