There's More to Ballet than Meets the Eye

There's More to Ballet than Meets the Eye

 

We all love our ballet, that can’t be denied. We go to class every week, if not more than once per week. We know all the terminology in French and its explanations. But did you know that there is more to ballet than ‘ballet’?

Well, let’s look a little deeper into what that means…ballet is a dance style, yes, but as with many wonderful things, it has evolved through time and there are actually 3 main styles of ballet. It turns out that ballet isn’t that simple!

The three main styles are categorised under the terms:

Classical

Neoclassical

Contemporary

So, without reading any further, do you know which style of ballet you practice? Maybe classical? We hear that term a lot, right? Although we are in the 21st Century, so maybe its Contemporary? Then where does this Neoclassical style fit in? Let’s delve in and clear this confusion up…

 

Classical Style

One of the early styles that was very popular right up to the 19th Century. Story driven and focussing on symmetry and elegant movements, this style was popular in France and Russia especially. Very strict adherence to form and technique is crucial with this style along with ensuring fluid and graceful movements. Typical examples of Classical Ballet would be Swan Lake or The Nutcracker both by Tschaikovsky.

 

Neoclassical Style

Finding its evolution from the Classical style, the Neoclassical style was distinctively abstract, favouring a more athletic style with dynamic and strong movements. The Balanchine method was derived from this style with much popularity in the USA. Rebelling against the overly dramatic Classical ballet, this style brought a more simplistic take on a complex dance.  If you are interested in seeing an example of Neoclassical ballet, then take a look at Astarte by Robert Joffrey.

 

Contemporary Style

Again, taking its inspiration from Classical with the addition of jazz movements and other dance forms, Contemporary ballet favours the power of movements and the aesthetic of the lines created by the body. Often quoted as the ballet style that is ‘anchored in the old, hungry for the new’, this bold statement represents what it is to practice Contemporary ballet. Less interested in creating magnificent works of art and more interested in experimenting with lines and aesthetics.  William Forsythe is commonly thought to be a great innovator within this style.

 

So, now what you see in your own training? Which style do you practice? Is there perhaps a shift of styles between classwork and then choreographed pieces for performances? It may be possible that without even realising it, when we are allowed the platform to create our own pieces of dance, that we might be floating across styles. And isn’t that the beauty of ballet in the end? The freedom we have to create without boundaries, yet still staying true to the original Classic discipline and sense of inner strength?

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