Ballet History
The Beginning
Through
The 18th Century
The Beginning
15th and 16th Century
• Ballet originated in the Italian Renaissance courts
of the 15th century (1400s)
• The dancing was an elaborate spectacle seen at
lavish events and celebrations
• Dance masters taught ballet steps only to nobility
• In the 16th century (1500s) an Italian
Noblewoman and patron of the art, Catherine de
Medici, began to fund ballet in the French court.
The Beginning
17th Century
• In the 17th Century (1600s) King Louis XIV helped
to popularize and standardize the art form
• He took ballet from a pastime for amateurs to an
endeavor requiring professional training
• By the late 1600s Louis XIV established the first
ballet school, the Academie Royale de Danse
(Royal Academy of Dance).
• One of the Ballet Masters at the school, Pierre
Beauchamps, is credited for developing the five
positions of the feet which are still used
worldwide today.
The Beginning
17th Century
• A prominent dancer of that time, Jean-Baptiste
Lully, is responsible for starting what is today
known as the Paris Opera Ballet.
• Lully is also well known for transitioning Ballet to
performance by professional dancers rather than
courtiers as well as the incorporation of women
performers. Until then Ballet was only performed
by men.
• The French Opera began to incorporate Ballet in
its performances and began a longstanding
opera-ballet tradition in France.
The Beginning
18th Century
• During the mid 18th Century (1700s) Jean Georges
Noverre rebelled against Ballet accompanying
Opera and believed that ballet could stand alone
as its own art form.
• He thought that ballet should contain expressive,
dramatic movement, and that movement should
reveal the relationships between characters.
• His notions introduced the ballet d’action, a
dramatic style of ballet that conveys a narrative.
• Noverre’s work is considered the precursor to the
narrative ballets of the 19th century (1800s).
Names to Remember
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Catherine de Medici
King Louis XIV
Pierre Beauchamps
Jean-Baptiste Lully
Jean Georges Noverre