Mr. White/Ms. Deal
31 March 2014
History of Ballet and Beginner’s Techniques
How did ballet come about and what are some of the beginner’s steps? To understand the roots of ballet, one must first look at the roots of dance in general. Dance has roots in early civilizations. People once used moves and gestures to communicate before the spoken language was invented. Many dance terms and aspects of ballet theaters originated in Greece. Ballet has a long history that leads up to the current style and techniques taught today.
Ballet began during Italian balls held in the king’s court. Specifically during Bal des Ardents (Burner’s Ball). A king dressed the dancers in flammable costumes, and they caught fire. All but one died because of their burns. Dances started being performed by a specific group of people dressed identically or in costume. This would lead to opera ballets which would give rise to modern ballet.
In the 1400s, Ballet Masters, also known as choreographers, became known. They can be traced by the documents of their works. Domenico da Piacenza, Master Domenico, always had his works written down. Domenico began referring to dance as “ballo” rather than “danza.” He did this because ballo meant “dancing of varied rhythm,” and danza meant “dancing to music of unvarying rhythm” (Greskovic 6). To the English-speaker, ballo translated as ballet.
The dancers that performed during these dances were amateurs that were taught by the masters. The masters created instructions for the dancers that focused on the positions and figures of the body (Greskovic 1-6). Since that time, many different styles of ballet have come about.
Today, ballet is typically taught in studios. These studios have plenty of space and have floors made of smooth wood or vinyl. There is usually supports under the floor in a woven pattern. This provides a bounce that makes it easier to jump higher and land softer. Studios have horizontal bars attached to the walls that are used for exercises and warm-ups. Usually there is a large mirror in the front so that dancers can check their positions.
Before beginning any dance moves, a dancer must warm up. These exercises prepare the body for dancing and help to loosen the muscles so that the dancer will not get hurt. Warm ups can be performed on the floor or on the bar. An example of a warm up is sitting on the floor, spreading out your legs, and leaning forward as far as you can. A bar warm up would be placing one leg on the bar and reaching over towards your leg with the arm that is opposite of the leg on the bar. So, if your left leg is on the bar, you reach towards it with your right arm.
Some of the building blocks of ballet are the five basic positions of the arms and legs. First position, also known as premiére, starts by putting your heels together and toes apart. This creates a v shape. Legs are straight and turned out. Arms are held in a circle out in front of your chest. Shoulders should be down...