WEEK #1: Tuesday

It’s Tuesday!  One down, four to go!  On Tuesdays in our Coffee Break With the Ballet series, we’ll feature “Let’s Get Technical,” where we’ll share interesting facts about ballet history or technique.  We’ll also give you a Google Challenge where we’ll invite you to hunt around on the web to find cool things to share in the comments.

Let’s Get Technical

The formal, graceful carriage of the body that defines the style of classical ballet was first born nearly 500 years ago in the courts of Europe, but if you saw one of those early performances, you might not recognize it.  The dancers were weighted down by elaborate costumes and masks, limiting their range of movement from what you see today, and just like in Shakespeare’s theater, men performed women’s roles as well.  They thought a woman’s body was too fragile to bear the weight of the ornate headdresses and costumes, which is a little hilarious when you look at how women in the 1600’s dressed EVERY DAY.  The first female dancers performed in Paris in 1681 in a ballet called “Le Triomphe de L’Amour,” and women dancers have been lighting up the stage with power, grace, athleticism and beauty ever since.

Dancing at the court of Henri III of France (1580’s)

Yuka Iino and Chauncey Parsons in The Sleeping Beauty at OBT  (Photo: Blaine Covert)


Simplifying costumes to allow for a greater range of movement, and the evolution of different ballet techniques, means that 21st-century dancers can do unbelievable things with their bodies.  Find the most “How do they DO that???” dance photo you can and post the link here –a spectacularly high jump, a perfectly-controlled moment of stillness, a flawlessly-balanced body en pointe, or any other moment of dance that takes your breath away.

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