Ballet originated in 1459 in Italian Renaissance, where dancing was a treat for the noble men and women, in lavish wedding events and other occasions. Initially the performers did dances in the banquet, serving dishes to the guests, making moves representing the dish being served. Ballet got a great recognition in the 17th century, when King Louis XIV (14th) performed on stage for the first time. He founded the first Opera ballet in Paris in an old abandoned tennis court. He along with his teacher, Pierre Beauchamp, were the first ones to invent the concept of the ‘five classical positions of the feet’.
Ballet started evolving since then, and many other historical figures followed thereafter. One of the important figures is Gaetano Vetris, one of the most famous dancers in ballet’s history; eho called himself ‘The God of Dance’. In the beginning, ballet dancers wore long heavy dresses that touched the floor. In 1700 the dress was shortened by Marie Anne Cupis of Belgium, to show her ankle. Later in the 1800s, dancers started wearing long fluffy light weight, ‘Romantic Tutus’. This later turned shorter and stiffer which in the end became the skirt, now called ‘classic tutu’.
Ballet gained popularity and the dancers were known all around. At the time of the death of Marie Tagilioni, her most devoted fans cooked one of her ballet slippers and all of them ate it. However, ballet kept evolving and still great names are constantly adding to the long list, on the basis of their skills, abilities and innovation. In France and Russia Delhi turned into a Concert Hall performance, however it has always suffered from the diversity issues. Following are some of the many individuals who have helped to change all of that.
Anna Pavlova was a Russian dancer in St. Petersburg, Russia. She attended the imperial school of dance and made her debut in 1899 which led her to become a famous ballerina. She made an astonishing performance in 1905 in the dying swan – a dance created just for her and her partner Vaslav Nijinsky in 1911. She toured America and many other countries with the total of giving 4000 performances. Pavlova inspired the famous choreographer Frederick Ashton who saw her dance in Peru when he was just thirteen years old. The Mexican hat dance actually gained popularity when Pavlova Performed on stage in pointe shoes and was showered with appreciation by hats. Later in 1924 this ‘Mexico hat dance’ became Mexico’s national dance.
Ballet has long suffered with diversity issues. Misty Copeland was the first African American female to become a ballerina in the ballet history. She was born in 1982 and began her training at the age of thirteen to reach her recognition world-wide in more than twenty years at American ballet theatre, chaired by Elizabeth Segerstrom. Copeland is also the first African American to become a principal dancer in American ballet theatre’s 75 years of history. She is also the author of a famous children’s book called fire bird, life in motion, ballerina body and unlikely ballerina. She was rejected several times before rose to the heights of fame.
Born in 1990, Dame Alicia Markova was a British ballerina, choreographer, dance teacher and director. At the age of 14 she was dancing in the leading role. Markova was the first ballerina of the royal ballet. She even danced to perform swan lake, sugar plum fairy in the nut cracker and was appointed as the director of metropolitan ballet New York.
Allegra Kent was born in 1937 having flat feet as a child. She graduated from the school of American ballet and joined New York City ballet at the young age of 15. She acted in several roles, including seven deadly sins, in the role of dewdrop in the nutcracker and many others. She’s the author of a famous book called ballerina swan, which was published in 2012. In 1962 Kent also appeared in TV:
She was appreciated by the audience, for her sensual, delegate and electrifying turns. She is an adjunct professor at New York City ballet.
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Born on March 26, 1975. The passion of ballet was discovered by Roberto Bolle at a very young age. At 12 years old he entered the Ballet school of La Scala Theatre in Milan. Discovered by a famous director Nureyev at a theatre, Roberto was chosen to perform Tadzio in Death in Venice. After playing this famous role Bolle’s carrier took off and he started to perform all around the world including in the royal opera house. I’m the 2006 winter Olympic Games he performed in his hometown making it a remarkable experience for himself.
Mikhail (from Russia) at the very young age of 9 years studied ballet and left from Soviet Union in 1974, to perform around the world. He is known as the best male ballet dancer and he received a nomination for best supporting role and as well as a Golden Globe nomination for the film ‘The turning point’. It is essential to note his outstanding performance in the movie White Nights, with the American top dancer Gregory Hines and the significant role in famous American series ’Sex and the city’.
Taking his training from the national ballet school of Cuba, Carlos Acosta played his first American stage role as the prince in the nutcracker. In 1998, Carlos joined the royal ballet. Carlos has performed in the United States, Russia, Netherlands, Chile, Argentina, Greece, Japan, Italy, Germany and France. Carlos was awarded the CBE in the 2014 New Years honours list. In the national dance awards in 2015, Carlos was awarded the De Valois award for lifetime achievement. Premiering in Havana in 2003, Carlos choreographed his semi-autobiographical show breaking all box office records in London. In 2007 he won the coveted outstanding achievement in dance at the Laurence Olivier awards for his production of Carlos Acosta and friends of the royal ballet. Carlos retired from the royal ballet in 2015. He formed his own company in Havana known as Acosta Danza to critical acclaim. He directs and performs with the company as it tours around the world. He also wrote his autobiography entitled ‘no way home’. Several documentaries have been made about him. A film inspired by his life is already being shot and will be released in 2019 known as Yuli.
Born on March 17, 1938, Rudolf Nureyev was admitted into the Kirov Ballet school where he trained under Alexander Pushkin. After declaring political asylum in 1961 Nureyev did not return to Russia. For the next 20 years he danced as a guest star with major ballet companies in Europe, US and Australia. Nureyev also remounted the nutcracker. In 1989 he returned to Russia and danced at the Kirov theatre. He died in 1993.
Kayla Rowser has spoken about the importance of diversity, by the virtue of being a dancer at the Nashville ballet. She spoke about the diversity in body types, movement quality and all types of things, through her ballet moves. She was also featured as one of the top 25 dance magazine’s watch lists, last year. Worked for a project by American ballet theatre, raising awareness towards increased racial and ethnic representation in ballet.
Yuan Yuan Tan
Yuan Yuan Tan became the youngest principal in the company’s history and the first Chinese dancer in the 1900’s. She is a big name for the San Francisco ballet company. She has played every major female role from Giselle to Juliet.