When did ballet begin?

Ballet has been the dominant style in Western dance since its development as an independent form in the 17th century. Its characteristic style of movement is still based on the positions and steps developed in the court dances of the 16th and 17th centuries.

The most basic feature of the ballet style is the turned-out position of the legs and feet. The head is nearly always lifted and the arms are held out in extended curves. The body is nearly always held erect, apart from controlled arches in the back or a slight turning of the shoulders.

Ballet has, of course, undergone many stylistic alterations. The Romantic style of the early to mid-19th century was much softer – not involving so many jumps and turns – than the classical style of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Russian ballet is often regarded as the model of the classical school, and is a mixture of various styles including the athleticism of Russian folk dances.

Fact File:

Ballet dancers wear special shoes. These shoes have wooden blocks in the toes to enable the dancer to perform many of the complicated moves they make on the tips of their toes.


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