The Intriguing Beginnings of Ballet In France


Ballet is a performance that is articulated with music and motions that create the dynamic of an entire tale.

Dances known as balletto were formed in the early fifteenth century in Italy. It was the dance of celebration that was significant at events such as weddings and formal gatherings. After more than a century, ballet plied its way across the lands finding a home in Paris. Today, ballet presentations are featured across the country as it has become a signature of French Theater.

Has Ballet Changed Over the Years?

Understanding the dynamics of ballet is diverse and complex. In keeping with Italian tradition, the dance has retained its elegant stance over the generations. Originally, the stage was set below the audience giving an overlook of the show. The flair and costumery brought the ballet dancers into view without a detailed story. As life progressed, ballet merged with dramatic theater allowing a translation of detailed plot to be presented. The design of their ensembles has been modified from bulky apparel to light and delicate materials. The standard dressing of that time also was expected on the stage. As shoes were traded for soft slippers and skirting was shortened, the movement was the beginning of the modern tutu we see today.

Who Started the Ballet in France?

If we focus on the year 1581, we will become acquainted with Catherine de Medici who married Henry II of France. She brought a fresh perspective from her homeland offering a personal touch to the ballet. The dance was prevalent yet became the center of attention when Catherine formed the Ballet Comique de la Reyne. This ballet company was the first in French history while impacting the theatrical stage worldwide. They covered a compilation of music and dance with a twirl of romance. Tragedies and triumphs were evident in every step as the dancers swept away their audiences. This reformed the current dance making Paris the capitol of ballet.

Did Louis the XIV Dance in a Ballet?

Louis XIV the king of France did indeed enjoy the ballet. He watched all performances, supported the institution and was a marvelous ballet dancer himself. Making his own theatrical debut at the age of thirteen, he danced in Ballet de Cassandre. Two years later, king Louis XIV gained the stage name of the Sun King. This was largely due to his role as Apollo who was a Sun God in both Greek and Roman Mythology. At that time, ballet became persuasive to have women join ballet presentations as opposed to remaining primarily male. King Louis XIV was distantly related to Catherine de Medici with a blurred line of cousins and those who gained rein of France prior to his birth. It is coincidental that in his founded Acadamie de Royale Musique the first professional Ballet company was formed which is similar to the vision of Catherine.

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