Make Connections with the Other Arts Go Behind the Sccenes at the Kennedy Center A Brief History of the Ballet Links to the Culture The Dances An Introduction to the Company Links to Russian Culture A look at the Swan Lake and The Nutcracker An Introduction to the Company

A History of the Art

The art of Ballet can trace its origins to the early seventeenth century, when dancers performed to entertain audiences between scenes of an opera. These short dances grew in popularity and importance until they became a form of theater in their own right, accompanied by a standardization of movements and defining of other stylistic conventions. In 1661, King Louis XIV of France founded the Académie Royale de Musique et de Danse, establishing Paris as the center of academic ballet. Italian dancers also developed their own styles and approaches to the dance, and both schools flourished throughout the 18th and early 19th centuries. As the years passed, Russia became the international center of ballet, combining the strength and passion of Italian style with the softness and fluidity of the French school.


Bolshoi Dancer
For more about the History of the Ballet, try:
Dancing Online, History of Ballet
This text gives a brief history of how ballet developed from court entertainment during the Renaissance, to professional ballet, and then to modern movements in ballets of the 20th Century.
CyberDance - Ballet on the Net - Home Page
This is a collection of over 3,500 links to classical ballet and modern dance resources on the Internet.
Ballet Web
"A classical ballet site featuring photo essays, commentary, QuickTime animations, and a page of reader-submitted ballet jokes, plus notes about dance photography."



Academies were formed to pass on the fundamentals and traditions of classsical dance. During a young dancer's formal training, positions and techniques such as en pointe become part of a dancer's 'vocabulary', allowing them to communicate with other dancers in a common language of movement. Because advanced notation systems like Labanotation were not in active use during the early years of ballet, many works have been lost to us; much like an oral tradition, important information such as choreography, style and structure were passed from dancer to dancer and were dependent on the memory and physical capabilities of both master and apprentice.
For more about teaching and choreography, try:
American Ballet Theatre's Ballet Dictionary
This is ABT's informative dictionary, which contains images and QuickTime video clips illustrating dance terms & techniques.
Footnotes Sidebars
From the Bravo series on the Ballet comes this site full of information on the Ballet.
Dance Links
"A Collection of World Wide Web Sites relating to the Performing Art of Dance icluding Dancewear, Pointe, Dance Funding, Dance News, University Dance Departments, Dance Schools, Dance Index, and a Dance Directory."
Arts to Zoo's International Dance Links
"An online index of Dance & Ballet resources, history, books, videos, schools, and University Dance Departments".
For a listing of Academies and Companies offering classes, visit's Dance School Resources


Classical ballet is generally structured on a narrative pretext. It is important that the audience has an understanding of the basic story line so as to fully understand the complex combination of movement, music and storytelling that makes up a performance. Some ballets, like the Nutcracker or Sleeping Beauty, are based on traditional stories that are familiar even today; others are more obscure and require a greater effort on the part of the dancers and the audience to fully understand their meaning.

The Pennsylvania Ballet's Kid's Page
Kid-friendly page listing ballet various movements using streaming video as an explanatory method.



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