Ballet History

Ballerina by Moi Cody,

Ballet History

A little bit of Ballet History for you.

Ballet is said to have started in the 16th and 17th century in France. This is why most of the classical terms used come from the French language.

It was further developed in Italy, Russia and England. Until about 100 years ago, this type of dance was the only form of dance performed on the stage.

The 't' in the word Ballet is a silent letter so in fact it is pronounced 'ballay'.

Originally only men were permitted to perform this style of dance. When women did commence this style they wore ankle length dresses, so completely different to the type of clothes worn for it now.

It tells us a story, expresses a mood or can just simply reflect the music being danced to.
Early dancers were not as skilled and professional as they are today. Now it is a highly technical form of dance having it's own vocabulary.

This dance is usually performed to Classical music and is taught in many schools around the world.

Ballerina - Moi Cady

When a dancer practices this style of dance they use a barre which is French for bar . It's used a lot for stretching and it aids their balance when practicing different moves.

Buy at

Later developements of this form of art include 'Expressionist' and Neoclassical' ballet with elements of 'Modern' dance.

Ballet shoes, Wendy Cain,

Classical Ballet

This being the most formal of the styles - it keeps to the traditional techniques.

The very first Pointe Shoes were normal ballet slippers, but they were darned, heavily at the toe.

This would allow the wearer to stand on the toes for a moment - so as to appear 'weightless'.

Later it was changed to the 'hard box' that is in use today.

Ballet Shoes - Wendy Cain

Neoclassical Ballet

This style is less rigid than classical and it uses the traditional vocabulary.

Performers of this style will dance at more extreme tempos and will complete more technical moves. One of its characteristics is it's focus on 'structure'.

The spacing used is more complex and more modern than in classical.


This style has been influenced by both 'modern dance'and 'classical ballet'.

Most of it's concepts are from 'modern dance' - i.e. the floor work and the 'turning-in' of the legs.

It is more free and innovative allowing the performer to control the ballet concepts.

Currently there are numerous contemporary ballet companies and many choreographers of this style.

Return to Ballet-Dance

Return from Ballet History to Home page.