The History of Ballet

Hello everyone!  Long time, no blog.  I’ve been having a very busy, yet relaxing summer.  It’s almost time to go back to school and for dance classes to start-up again.  Because I am a dancer and talk so much about my love for dance, I decided to write a series of blog posts about the history of different kinds of dance.  For my first post in the series, I am going to start with the form of dance I love the most – ballet!  I started ballet at the age of five and I didn’t much appreciate it in the beginning.  Now, I go to a dance studio where the main focus is ballet technique.  Now I am so much better at it because it’s all that I do.  The history of ballet is as interesting as the art form itself.  The word ballet comes from French and was borrowed into English around the 17th century.  The French word in turn has its origins in Italian balletto, but uses the shortened version of ballo (dance).

Ballet ultimately traces back to Italian ballare, meaning to dance.  According to Wikipedia, ballet originated in the Italian Renaissance courts of the 15th and 16th centuries and spread from Italy to France.  Catherine de’ Medici and Balthasar de Beaujoyeulx were responsible for presenting the first court ballet ever which applied poetry, dance, music and set design to a storyline.  In the late 17th century Louis XIV founded the Académie Royale de Musique (the Paris Opera), within which emerged the first professional theatrical ballet company, the Paris Opera Ballet.  The dominant use of French in the vocabulary of ballet reflects this history.  Theatrical ballet soon became an independent form of art and spread from Europe to other nations.  The Royal Danish Ballet and the Imperial Ballet of the Russian Empire were founded in the 1740s.  In 1907 the Russian ballet moved back to France.

Soon ballet spread around the world with the formation of new companies, including the San Francisco Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, the New York City Ballet, and many others.  In the 20th century, different styles of ballet continued to develop.  The United States choreographer, George Balanchine, developed what is now known as neoclassical ballet.  Subsequent developments have included contemporary ballet and post-structural ballet.  I want to be a ballerina when I grow up.  My favorite ballerina, Misty Copeland, was just named American Ballet Theatre’s first female African-American principal dancer.  I find her to be very inspirational.  Because of her late start in learning how to dance ballet (she was 13) and her race and body type, she is what’s known as an unlikely ballerina.  Keep reading my blog to learn about other forms of dance.

This is me in my ballet costume for a group dance I was in during my 5th grade year back in 2013 – 2014.  We danced to Discombobulate.  It is the theme song from the movie, Sherlock Holmes.

Merry Christmas!!!

Hello everyone.  It’s been a long time since I’ve written a blog post….almost a whole month!  I hope that everyone had a great Christmas and spent time with their families relaxing, opening presents, and eating good food.  I had a great day even though I’ve been sick with a cold the last few days.  I wanted to share with you what I’ve been doing all month long, since it clearly hasn’t been blogging.  Well, as you know, I changed dance studios at the beginning of this school year.  At the end of my first week there back in August, they held auditions for the traditional December/Christmas time ballet, The Nutcracker.  And after being in class for only two days, I got a part!!!  Yay me!  Remember, my ballet school is tied to the city’s ballet company, and because The Nutcracker has so many parts for kids, they let the kids who attend the ballet school be in the professional production.  I got the role of a Peppermint Page, Cast B.  There were two casts.  Cast A performed in five out of the ten shows and Cast B performed in the other five.  Some of the older kids were in both Casts A and B and so they had to perform in all ten shows!  We began practicing on Saturdays, every Saturday in fact, starting in September.  Then beginning on Tuesday, December 9th, we began practicing at the downtown venue from about 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. every night.  This included regular stage blocking rehearsals and dress rehearsals in full make-up and costume.  I performed in the first show on Saturday, December 13th.  It was the 2 p.m. matinee.  On Saturdays and Sundays there were two shows –  a 2 o’clock and a 7 o’clock.  The two casts traded off on whether we did the early or the late show.  So, you see I’ve been busy for the last three weeks straight.  I haven’t had much time to blog.  Not to mention that I still had to go to school every day through Friday, December 19th.   And we had final exams because it was the end of the semester.  My last show was on Monday night, December 22nd.  And man oh man, was I tired.  Then, I got sick!!!

My parents bought tickets to each and every show so that I always had family in the audience to see me perform.  That was very nice of them and it was very expensive.  They also took me to see one of the Cast A shows that I was not dancing in because all that being backstage, I hadn’t even seen the show in full.  Both my mom and my dad saw the show three times each.  My big sister, Ashley, saw it twice.  As a Peppermint Page, I performed in Act II, Scene I.  The pages escorted the Sugarplum Fairy out on stage, more or less.  Now, here’s a little background on The Nutcracker.   The Nutcracker Ballet is based on the book called “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King” written by E.T.A. Hoffman.  In 1891, the legendary choreographer Marius Petipa commissioned Tchaikovsky to write the music for the Nutcracker Ballet.  In 1892, the first showing of the Nutcracker took place at the Mariinsky Theatre of Russia, home of the Kirov Ballet.  The Nutcracker made its way to Western Europe in the 1930’s and to America by 1940, performed by Ballet Russe. The first American full length Nutcracker was performed by the San Francisco Ballet, choreographed by W. Christensen. The Nutcracker has since become an annual holiday tradition.  In The Nutcracker, a Christmas present — a nutcracker — comes to life as a handsome prince. After being given to a young girl, Clara Stahlbaum, at a Christmas party, the Nutcracker takes Clara on fantastic adventures where toys come to life, including a sword fight with the Mouse King.

Take a look at some of my pictures below and come back tomorrow so we can talk Christmas presents and American girl dolls.

2014 Nutcracker

2014 Nutcracker Tree 2

2014 Nutcracker curtain

2014 Nutcracker tickets

Misty Copeland

Misty copeland1

Misty copeland2Misty copeland3

I love to dance.  If you’ve been reading my blog over the last two months, you know that about me for sure.  I have been going to a medium sized recreational studio for five years now and I am in the Company.  We do special performances around town and we compete in dance competitions.  I take ballet, jazz, and tap primarily.  I have been in pointe/pre-pointe for a year now and we perform dances in those styles as well as musical theater, lyrical, and hip-hop.  I have been thinking for a while about what it would be like to pursue dance more seriously, maybe even as a career, to train real hard and perfect my technique and study dance in college.  I know that dancers don’t have long careers, so I’d have to be able to do something else when I stopped dancing.  In that way, dancers are like athletes.  I am considering leaving my studio that I love and all of the girls that I’ve been dancing with over the last few years to go to the dance school run by our city’s ballet company.  I think that they take dance more seriously and they are training students to be dancers when they grow up.  They also do not consider themselves to be recreational and they don’t do stuff like dance competitions.

Dance started up again this week, summer classes.  We are also busy re-choreographing, re-blocking, and rehearsing our dances for Disney World.  We’re going there to dance in July.  I think after the Disney trip, I am going to leave my studio.  I am scared and I am excited all at the same time.  I have already invested six years in dance and I spend A LOT of time at the studio as it is.  I believe that I want to study ballet full-time and focus on being a better dancer so I can see how far I can go.  I visited the new studio about a month ago and took a class.  I have all my enrollment papers filled out.  I will have to tell my teachers and the girls that I dance with.  Maybe one day I can be like Misty Copeland.  For those of you who don’t know who Misty Copeland is, she is the third African American female soloist for the American Ballet Theatre (ABT).  Anne Benna Sims and Nora Kimball were the first two soloists at the ABT.  They danced there in the early and mid-1980s, making Misty Copeland the first in twenty years.  Misty Copeland was born September 10, 1982.  The American Ballet Theatre is considered one of the three leading classical ballet companies in the United States.  The other two are the New York City Ballet and the San Francisco Ballet.  People say that Misty Copeland is a prodigy because she didn’t take her first ballet class until she was thirteen at a Boys and Girls Club.  After three months of studying ballet, she was already en pointe.  By the time she was fifteen, she was winning dance awards and getting offers to dance professionally.  She joined the ABT Studio Company in September 2000, and became a member of its Corps de ballet in 2001.  In August 2007 Misty Copeland became a soloist with the ABT.  I don’t know if I have what it takes to do what Misty Copeland has done, but if I am ever going to find out, I have to try something new.  Wish me luck!