I. The 19th century was a time of change with the Industrial Revolution affecting the economy, society and politics.
A. The steam engine expanded industries.
1. Western Europe saw many inventions during this period as well as the notion of developing national identities.
2. Russia was emerging from feudalism during this time and did not embrace industrialization.
a. Russia had become one of the most powerful countries in the world and was able to play a role in European affairs after especially after the defeat of Napoleon in 1814.
3. The English society in the 19th century was called the Victorian era because of the long and peaceful reign of Queen Victoria.
a. This time appeared to be dignified and restrained but there was child labor, prostitution, and the exploitation of colonials.
b. On the surface, women were placed on pedestals while men dominated business, but there were undercurrents of feminism.
4. The 19th century was a prolific and popular period for literature with novels, short stories and magazine articles being published. In Russia, writers avoided the
censors by using linguistic tricks and allusions their readers would understand.
a. Russian nobility spoke French and wore French fashions. Russian artists in theater, literature and music emerged.
II. Romantic Ballet emerged in the Paris Opéra when the director produced a spectacle in a weak opera hoping to achieve box office success since royalty no longer controlled or supported the Opéra. The dance section of Robert le Diable was the “Dance of the Dead Nuns” in which a group of dancers rose from their tombs with their lead dancer, Marie Taglioni. It was a ghostly stage vision that was enhanced by the use of new gas lighting. The result was box office success and prompted the production of La Sylphide which paved the way for the romantic era of ballet.
A. Romanticism in art and literature was a revolt against reason and a spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings.
1. Germany critics defined this term as arts based in medieval tales of romance and those derived from classical sources.
2. The romantic period last a little more than ten years in France, it had a profound impact of ballet development and romantic ballets continued to be
performed in the United States, Denmark and Russia throughout the 19th and 20th century and some are still performed today.
3. With the advent of factories, many people in Europe were employed as factory workers and sought relief from their humdrum lives by attending the ballets and other forms of theater. They sought entertainment and to indulge in being swept away to faraway lands and fantastic places.
4. Although many romantic ballets were performed at the Paris Opéra, many dancers had been trained at the La Scala opera house in Milan, Italy. Dancers and ballet masters traveled throughout Europe and often performed in Russia.
B. During the 18th century, males were the lead dancers in ballets and the 19th century saw females as the leading stars and characters of ballets. Male dancers took supporting roles in the romantic ballets and continued as ballet masters and arranged the ballets. Ballerinas danced on the tips of their toes to enhance their ethereal quality. The establishment of pointe work during this period became an essential feature of ballet.
1. Fillipo Taglioni was an Italian dancer, choreographer and ballet master and father of Marie Taglioni. His contribution to the ballet was a light and gracious
quality featuring the mystical quality of woman. In rehearsals, he was very demanding and often his daughter, Marie, had to be carried out of rehearsals from exhaustion.
2. Marie Taglioni is known for her unique quality of purity and lightness. The tips of her ballet slippers were darned and she would rise up on her toes as if she was defying gravity. She was famous and popular and adored by her fans. She had a brother named Paul who also danced.
3. Carlotta Grise was a pupil of Perrot and started entered the La Scala ballet in 1829. She danced the role of the first Giselle. Many people believe she was the first ballerina to wear a blocked slipper to dance en pointe.
I would like to detour from our textbook to discuss the origins of the pointe shoe and I believe it is pertinent in discussion of the romantic period. As often happens, even in recorded and documented history, the origins and the development of ideas and technique are sometimes credited to different people or groups. Some historians credit the Russian ballerina, Anna Pavlova with being the ballerina responsible for creating the pointe shoe due to her high arches, weak feet and her inability to dance on her toes without support.
the heels off her shoes to enable her to leap and jump which would not have been possible wearing a shoe with heels. In order to keep the slippers on, ribbons were attached to the slipper and laced around the ankle. Looking also at the romantic period of ballet when women were seen as sylph-like creatures who danced on the tips of their toes and sometimes even wore wings to enhance the ethereal quality. Marie Taglioni darned the sides of her slippers to allow her to rise up on the tips of her toes. Her fans in Russia loved her so much they cooked her slippers and at them with a sauce. Research indicates that it was considered cheating to put leather or wood in the toes of ballet slippers for more support and re-enforcement of the shoes, although it appears many ballerinas did exactly that.
The French school of Ballet emphasized refinement and the Italian school was more athletic and pushed technique to the limit in order to achieve dazzling virtuosi feats. Pierina Legnani did thirty-two fouettes en pointe on the tips of her toes to the amazement of audiences, which would have been impossible without a wooden support in her shoes and so, this then became the standard for all ballerinas to perform. As the evolution of the pointe shoe changed the ballet form, it should be noted that this advancement of the ballet form and the technical difficulty actually rose out of a period when women were sen as ethereal beings who were delicate and light and dancing on the tips of their toes and floating
without effort. During this period, and up until this time, most of the ballet masters and influential contributors were men. It is common knowledge in all ballet schools, academies or colleges that during this time, ballerinas made choreographic and technical contributions to dance, but there is very little acknowledgment of this historically. For the purposes of discussion, Anna Pavlova is most often credited with the actual development of the pointe shoe, but it is important to know that the actual technique of dancing on one’s toes was initiated by Marie Taglioni which would not have been possible without Marie Camargo dancing without heels, but Carlotta Grise is believed to be the first ballerina to wear a blocked slipper to dance en pointe.
When ballerinas were putting wood or leather in their shoes for extra support, it was at first considered cheating and then when the use of the shoes demonstrated the increased support would allow technical advancement of the for of ballet dancing, it then became the stand that all female dancers were to achieve. The influence of the romantic period remained in the continuing show of effortlessness while performing extremely physically demanding feats of technical and athletic execution. One source for this lecture makes note of the acceptance of the football players being able to grunt and groan while playing football and the beauty of the execution of for in the sport of football or baseball might happen, but in ballet, it is imperative that it happen. Dance is a performing art, although at this
point in history we see ballet advancing to a very technically demanding and athletic form, with students having been carried out of dance rehearsals from exhaustion. On stage, the performing art continued to maintain that it was and is effortless. Thinking on this note, during the industrial revolution, audiences attended the theater and the ballet to escape from their humdrum lives and to be taken to a more magical place and this became the development of dance from entertainment to dance for escape. The advancement of the pointe shoe along with the theme and the attitude of fantasy melded and created an illusion that an extremely difficult technical feat was effortless.
Earlier in our review of this period of romantic ballets, there was reference to a somewhat feminist uprising and in the world of dance, what is evident from the development of the pointe shoe is that women, in the role of the ethereal sylph, developed no only their technique, but the actual pointe shoe to enable them to have the strength to achieve the look of being light and flying on the stage. Ballet, at this point, changed the focus from the male dancer being dominate to the female dancer with the man performing the supporting role.
Wikipedia and Gaynor Mindons homepage, www.dancer.com
4. Fanny Cerrito was born in Italy and danced at La Scala. She had brilliant
technique and became the star of the London Stage. She was married to Arthur Saint-Léon, a dancer and choreographer and composer for a short time.
5. Lucille Grahn was a Danish dancer and danced the title role in August Bournovilles first production of La Sylphide. Grahn left Denmark to dance in Paris tour and mostly performed sylph roles in which she excelled. She also danced in Pas de Quatre. After she retired from performing, she became a ballet mistress.
6. Fanny Elssler was a Viennese dancer who trained at Theater an der Wien.
She traveled throughout Europe and was an instant success in America. She was able to execute the most difficult technique en pointe and was a rival to Taglioni.
In Moscow she was given more than 50 curtain calls hundreds of bouquets and gifts of jewels. Essler offered a contrast to the femininity of the other romantic-era ballets with her versatility and her ability to display earthy movements as opposed to the ephemeral nature of the sylph.
7. Jules Perrot was a French dancer and ballet master who had danced in Paris and become a soloist at the Kings Theatre in London. He was Taglionis partner and Carlotta Grisis teacher. Perrot is considered the greatest male dancer of the romantic era. He created ballets using dramatic plots and expressive
choreography. His choreography for Pas de Quatre brought the four leading
ballerinas of the romantic era together and showed off their personal syles.
8. Jean Coralli was of Italian descent but born in Paris and was a dancer, choreographer and ballet master. He produced his most important ballets at the Paris Opéra.
9. August Bournoville was a Danish dancer, choreographer and ballet director. He studied with Auguste Vestris at the Opéra and absorbed much of the French style of the danseur noble and the technical virtuosity of the 19th century French-school male dancer. His ballets became the foundation for the Royal Danish Ballet and he kept
ballet alive and flourishing in Denmark while it declined in Europe in the late part of the 19th century.
10. Salvatore Viganò was a son of dancing parents and in addition to being a dancer himself was a talented musician, poet and painter. He focused on individual movements of stylized gestures for the corps de ballet and became known as the “Father of Italian Ballet.” His technique and ideas about the corps de ballet resurfaced in the next century in the work of Michael Fokine.
11. Carlo Blasis was a dancer but his greatest contributions to ballet were as a teacher and his writings as a ballet theorist. He invented the ballet position of attitude. Among Blassis’ writings are The Elementary Treatise Upon the Theory
and Practice of the Art of Dancing and The Code of Terpsichore a book written for
dancers that established the basis of modern classical ballet. He trained dozens of dancers using the system he created including Enrico Cecchetti and others who would dazzle the audiences in Russia near the end of the century.
12. Théophile Gautier was a French writer who wrote critical and dramatic art reviews and scenarios for romantic ballets including Giselle and La Péri. C. During the first part of the 19th century, the contradance was popular in English ballrooms as well as the minuet which had lost its popularity in France. French had
fled to England where they taught dance and etiquette in fashionable boarding schools. The distinction between dance for theater and dance in the ballroom became even greater in the 19th century as ballerinas were dancing en pointe. With the invention of gas lighting, a large curtain separated the audience from the stage to protect the audience in case of fire from the new form of stage lighting.
1. There was a code of rules for both men and women attending the ballroom dances and guides including the written instructions for the dances of the period.
a. The minuet, contradance, Scottish reels and others continued to be the popular dances for the ballroom.
1. The cotillion, or the French cotillion developed in the court of Louis XVI but
continued its popularity until the end of the 19th century in the rest of Europe. This
dance contained many figures that required practice by a group with a dance master. It was eventually supplanted by couple dances.
2. Polonaise was an old court dance which originated in the 16th century Polish court processions.
3. Quadrille was a very old dance which might have originated in France before the 18th century and was first danced very stately and then later danced very quickly. It was very popular with the middle class after the French revolution and was very
popular in English ballrooms. The steps were very intricate and was danced with four couples.
4. Waltz comes from the German word for turn and it was a gliding dance in triple time while the couple remained in an embrace. Many countries claim the waltz, historians believe that the waltz originated in Germany. It was introduced in England in 1812 and was both a popular dance and a controversial one as well. The morality of the waltz was under criticism of the clergy, mothers and social dignitaries due to the closeness of the couples when they waltzed and the breathlessness of the young women.
5. The Polka was a popular social dance any might have originated in Poland or the former Czechoslovakia. The dance performed in 2/4 time was performed in the
ballroom in Prague in the 1830's and dancing masters took it to Paris. There was a
polka mania that swept Europe and by 1844, the polka had arrived in English ballrooms.
D. Dance designs made a part of the ballroom dances had distinct formations and the choral dances were similar to previous periods.
E. Orchestras were used for the ball and bands played in the Vauxhalls. In the
a short concert was paled before the evenings theatrical event and at intermission. The dancing teachers often composed and arranged songs for their ballets and only a few composer began to write music specifically for ballet as part of the attempt to create a unified artistic performance.
F. The fashionable upper class in England and Europe led lives of leisure and extravagance and during the romantic era, women’s fashion, hairstyles and footwear were often similar to those of the dancers on the stage. The most notable influence was Marie Taglioni’s white muslin dress from La Sylphide. Fashionable ladies of the romantic period wore dresses made in this ethereal-looking style and adorned with
ribbons. The poor during this time were doomed to drudgery in the factories.
G. Romanticism in music surfaced in the 1820s and continued until around 1910 with composers such as Johannes Brahms, Frédéric Chopin and Franz Shubert.
H. Romantic ballet was unity of forms with a plot, dramatic action, the corps de ballet supporting the main characters with the music and the costumes setting the mood and reflecting the dramatic action of the dancers. Romantic-era female dancers rose onto their toes and wore gossamer gowns and often wings while male dancers wore knee breeches or short pants over tights and poet’s shirts sometimes with jackets or vests.
I. Theaters had an orchestra pit and tiered boxes and a balcony. The open flames from gas lights posed a danger to both performers and audience.
J. La Sylphide was choreographed by Fillipo Taglioni for his daughter, Marie. Giselle, ou les Wilis premiered with Carlotta Grisi dancing the title role with Lucian Petipa as Albrecht, the lead male role. Both are fantasy ballets which were influenced by the Dance of the Dead Nuns and are still performed today. La Sylphide is considered the
oldest surviving ballet and was first performed in Paris in 1832. The
ballet was then remounted in a production choreographed by August Bournoville for the Royal Danish Ballet and the lead role was danced by Lucile Grahn. This is the version that has survived. Because of the similarities of the names, I would like to talk about Les Sylphide which was choreographed by Michel Fokine with music by Frédérec Chopin and is a short, non-narrative ballet blanc. The twentieth century ballet is often described as “romantic reverie” and holds the distinction of being the first ballet to be simply that. Les Sylphides has no plot and is a ballet of many white-clad sylphs dancing in the moonlight with the poet or young man dressed in white tights and a black top. I mention this ballet during this part of the lecture because of the possibility of confusion of the names as well as the style. This ballet is still performed today also and at this point in our review of history, we will start to see a trend of ballets and dances continuing to be performed.
K. Pas de Quatre was a ballet without a plot that was choreographed for the four leading ballerinas of the romantic era; Marie Taglioni, Fanny Cerrito, Carlotta Grisi and Lucille Grahn. The reason for the choreographer was to feature each of the ballerinas unique talents.
J. Dance manuals became prolific during this time as dance master wrote instructions for dances and manners for the ballroom.
L. Classical Ballet in Russia was funded by the czar of Russia and European artists and dancers were imported to work with Marius Petipa to produce some of the most extravagant and elegant ballets. Aristocrats in Russia had been speaking French and emulated French style and arts as early as the 17th century. The last half of the 19th century was dominated by the development of classical ballet in Russia. The teachers were mostly male and many dancers were European. During the second half of the 19th century, Russia became more industrialized and expanded its power to Afghanistan, China and the Pacific. Serfdom was abolished in 1861 after the autocratic rule of Catherine the Great.
1. Arthur Saint-Léon was a French dance, choreographer, violinist and compose as well as being considered one of the best dancers of his time. He was company teacher at the Paris Opèra and succeeded Perrot as ballet master of ST. Petersburgs Imperial Theatre. He developed a notation system for dance and choreographed many ballets including Coppélia.
2. Marius Petipa was born in France but made his fame in Russia. During his career in Russia, Petipa created fifty or more ballets among them what we now consider to be the classics of ballet. They include Don Quixote, La Bayadère, The Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella and Swan Lake. Petipa worked closely with Pyotr Ilich Tchaikovsky and his ballets had lavish costumes. He demanded technically strong
ballerinas and premier dancseurs and imported Italian dancers to star in Russian ballets and to provide competition for developing Russian dancers.
3. Lev Ivanov was a Russian dancer and choreographer born in Moscow. He was known for his sensitivity as a dancer and choreographer and Petipa allowed him to choreograph full sections of Swan Lake and The Nutcracker. His work was mostly overlooked by a regime that focused on European talent and leadership and was overshadowed by Petipa.
4. Enrico Cecchetti was born in Rome to an Italian dancing family and was a dancer, mime and teacher. Most of is career was connected with the Russian ballet under Petipa and then under Serge Diaghilev. He developed a method of ballet instruction which is still used today and is a rigid training regime. The goal is for the student to learn dance by studying and internalising the basic principles in an effort to become self-reliant rather than imitating movements executed by their teacher. He published A Manual of the Theory and Practice of Classical Theatrical Dancing in 1922. Ceccheitti method has set exercises for each day of the working week to ensure that different types of steps are practiced in a planned sequence and that each part of the body is worked evenly and all exercises are done on both sides of the body. The method emphasizes quality as opposed to quantity and requires that it is more important and beneficial to do an exercise once correctly than many times carelessly.
The method also requires that new sequences of steps are taught each day to develop the students’ ability to learn quickly.
5. Pierina Legnani was born in Milan where she studied and performed with the ballet at La Scala. She toured Europe and went to Russia in 1892 where she performed her renowned 32 fouettés en tournant in Cinderella. Each year she returned to Russia to perform and she was the only European ballerina to be appointed as prima ballerina assoluta.
6. Virginia Zucchi was an Italian dancer who performed in Italy Berlin, London and St. Petersburg. She was a technical dancer of virtuoso skill and the results of her influence was revealed in the next generation of Russian dancers.
M. In the early 19th century, Russia had a rich dance history of preserved folk dances. These dances became a part of Russian ballets and under the reign of various czars, dance flourished. The czars had an amusement room which was a forerunner of the court theater and students of the military academy performed.
1. The lesser nobility replicated theaters in their home or as separate buildings on their estates and serfs performed for their masters in their homes.
2. Public ballets performed in Moscow can be traced back to 1759. Giovanni Baltista Locateilli built a private theater for the performance of ballets and operas.
3. In 1764 Filippo Beccari organized a dancing school at the Moscow orphanage. When he was hired to train professional dancers in 1773, almost one-third of the orphans he had trained became soloists with professional careers.
4. In 1780 the Petrovsky theater was built and after it burned down, Czar Alexander established the Moscow Ballet and Opera Theatre as an imperial theater. The Bolshoi of today is now on the site of the obsolete Petrovsky Theater. In 1862, the Moscow Theatre separated from the jurisdiction of St. Petersburg. Opera, ballet and dramatic theaters in Moscow were influenced by the city’s university and enlightened circles of society and in the opinion of Russians Moscow Ballet Theatre had an advantage over St. Petersburg in that it was less influenced by the court.
5. The Maryinsky Theatre was an outgrowth of the court theater in St. Petersburg and Catherine II created the position of the director of the imperial theaters in 1766 whose task was to bring all of the performing arts under the authority of the director.
a. The Mariinsky Ballet was originally known as the Imperial Ballet of Russia and is most commonly known by its former Soviet name the Kirov Ballet.
b. Ballroom dance of the second half of the 18th century continued in Russia to include the quadrille, polka and schottische which were all surpassed by the waltz and the music of Johann Strauss.
establishment of a hierarchy of soloists and a corps de ballet. The grand pas de deux was reserved for the ballerina and the premier danseur. Acting roles were played by retired dancers.
d. The ballerina and other females performed en pointe and wore tutus that ranged from above the knee to mid-calf depending on the ballet.
e. Male dancers wore tunics or peasant shirts and vests, tights, and either knee breeches or shorter pants.
f. Character dancers wore stylized national costumes, usually with boots.
N. The grand pas de deux structure developed from the pas de deux in romantic ballets. All grand pas de deux have a similar structure and are performed by a male and female dance who is en pointe.
a. Part I is adigio and slow with the man supporting the woman as she turns slowly or promenades on one leg.
b. Part II is the male variation which exhibits his virtuosity with jumps and turns and leaps and ends with a pose, often on one knee.
c. Part III is the female variation where the ballerina exhibits her technical virtuosity and ends with a pose.
d. Part IV is the finale or coda and is another dance for two but is quick and includes
supported lifts and rapid turns. Then each dancer displays their technical virtuosity in solos and the last part is performed together.
O. The bridge from romantic to classical ballet is Coppélia. In the latter part of the 19th century, Petipa and his artistic staff turned out ballet after ballet for audience demand and these dances have been passed down from generation to generation and are still performed today. Coppélia or The Girl With Enamel Eyes was choreographed by Arthur Saint-Leon. The ballet was based on the story The Sandman by E.T.A. Hoffman who was also the writer for the genesis of The Nutcracker. A doll maker named Dr. Coppélius makes a doll with a soul. The ballet has many elements of the romantic era along with the elements of the classical period.
1. The Sleeping Beauty and the Nutcracker are two ballets choreographed in the late 19th century based on fairy tales.
2. Swan Lake was originally not a successful ballet but was re-created by Petipa and Ivanov with music by Tchaikovsky in 1877 and has become an enduring classic and prototype of a classical ballet.