dance history

definition of dance #1
dance is an art-form performed by individuals or groups of human beings, existing in time, space, force, and flow which the human body is the instrument and movement is the medium
definition of dance #2
movement is stylized and the entire work is characterized by the form and structure
definition of dance #3
dance is commonly performed to musical or other rhythmic accompaniment and has primary purpose of expression of inner feelings and emotions, although it is often performed for social ritual, entertainment, or other purposes
function of dance #1
as an art form and means of human expression
function of dance #2
social pastime to go to theatrical performances
function of dance #3
religious rite
function of dance #4
fitness related activity
function of dance #5
to establish social unity and provide a means of collective strength and purpose
why is it difficult to define dance
many different interpretations of what dance is or can be
functions of dance for individuals
physical, cultural, social, psychological, economic, political, communicative
how can dance reflect the prevailing value system of the society
boroqe era: Louis XIV understood influence ballet had and used it to portray power, etiquette, and to bring society together
how can dance be used to resist or reform the prevailing value system of a society?
when medieval church resisted dancing, they eventually incorporated pagan rituals/movements to make it more appealing to the masses
sources used to speculate about dance in prehistoric times
cave paintings, egyptian hieroglyphics, description of ancient olympic games, old testament
functions of dance at dawn of agriculture
institutional need for emotional expression, assuring continuation of traditional ways of living, honor gods and each other, affirm tribal identities, to ask gods for a fertile crop and bountiful harvest
problematic ways that people attempt to define primitive dance
*To deal with their limitations in making sense of their terrifying environment.
*Stamping into the earth to attract attention of a deity to ask for intervention in human concerns.
*Making contact with spirits in trance-inducing dances was a means for early people to calm fears and gain control over the course of their lives
prevailing characteristics of classical period (Ancient Greece)
*ideals of art
*emphasis placed on harmony and proportion, connection with nature, sense of line
* Greeks performed rituals based on gods
* Idea of being processed by God
* ideals of perfection in philosophy, art, science
functions of rituals in Ancient Greece
general education, festival games, military training, theatrical entertainment
cult of Dionysis
irrational, passionate, and wildly sensual nature. God of wine
name of song and dance to honor dionysis
role of dance in ancient theater (ancient greece)
*Greeks regarded songs accompanied by gestures as a form of dance.
*In greek damas highly trained chorus of masked performers supported an unfolding plot of riveting human experience by visibly responding in song, dance, and gesture to the speech of the actors
*performed only by men in the realm of myth, considers private vs. public self.
* chatharsis- emotional aspect of tragedy–theater acts out of pity, fear people are feelings, way to purge emotions.
chance for more freedom of speech.
things drawn from everyday life, rather than higher religious question
lasting influences from Ancient greek era
* birth of theater
* ideals of democracy
* purpose of art
* creation of tragedy, comedy, satire
* art as conversation between the state and individual–dance becomes the voice, where individuals can speek–origin of change.
* sense of line, which is seen today in dance in ballet, in ensembles, and in choruses
prevailing characteristics of Roman Empire
* art as strictly entertainment
* shift in idea of art
* idea of pantomime
* size, spectacular performance
* dancers as second class citizens–not connected with being well education
role of art during Roman Empire
*Arts as source of entertainment, violent spectacles
*artists as greek slaves
* arts started catering to public expectations
constructed with 4 or 5 scenes portrayed by 1 performer in episodes that were separated by musical interludes. Pantomime artist wore a mask with closed mouth to signify story without words. Gestures, symbolic movements, and cape tricks would convey nuances of the story.
lasting influences form Roman Empire
* intellectual and cultural center for learning
* Growing Christian culture, shaped by deeply spiritual writings of St. Augustine
* Life as a preparation for the next world
* All human pleasures as distractions to contemplating holy thoughts
* Human body and dancing considered evil temptations
*Theatrical dance lost its showcase for thousands of years
dominant characteristics of Middle Ages
* fall of roman empire
* europe emerges as cultural unit
* dark ages of lawlessnes
* Christian church becomes unifying force of ideals, philosophies, and art
* Focus on Church and God–about suffering and gaining rewards in heaven
* obsession with strangeness, myths, folklore
* famine and plague throughout Europe
Dominant views on Body in middle ages
Body is the vessel for the soul
Dominant views of dance/ art in middle ages
*Realization that dancing could not be suppressed because natural proclivity for self-expression through the activity of movement was too obvious.
*Simple pleasure that people took in village dances for religious celebration seemed harmless.
* dance in honor of God–people would go in processions through town
* The only theater allowed was acting out story
types of medieval dance
maypole dance
carole: basic form of folkdance
ahselrotten( flirtations)
gimplegampel and springelantz (leaps and skips)
hoppaldei (couples rushed about with shoulders heaving and arms waving)
houbelschotten (sliding movements, head shaking, and shoulder shrugging)
purposes of dance in medieval times
*envisioned god in his heavenly throne surrounded by dancing “round of angels”
*dancing was the principal pastime for the saints in heavenly regions
* church incorporated small amounts of highly disciplined and formalized dance in its most profound religious services, preserving and sanctifying the presence f dance in medieval culture
dance of death
* important in tracing dance’s evolution because of its various expressions are indicative of the church-dominated medieval mentality. took on the form of a dialogue between its characters and a skeletal death figure. stories meant to be stern warnings of humanity’s worldly end and that death comes to every man
* large numbers of people, often, entire town populations dancing until they collapsed or died of exhaustion.
* result of witchcraft, bite of the tarantula, spider, or intervention of the devil
* result of group hypnosis, sexual excitement, contaminated food, or hysterical symptoms of merriment
*poets and songwriters who flourished from 110-1244
* passionate poetry had enormous social influence because it created around the ladies of the court
*parades of elaborate platforms constructed by the trade guilds.
*most direct relationship to ballet is that the richly decorated floats were forerunners of theatrical scenery.
folk dance
o Is a dance form not directly related to the theatrical performance of ballet
o Represents the continued human interest in dance as diversion and recreation even when it wasn’t sanctioned by the medieval Church
lasting influences from medieval times
folk dancing and court dancing as social customs
dance presented as spectacles
miracle plays
o specifically re-enacted miraculous interventions by the saints
o often took the form of processional dancing to commemorate the miracles
mystery plays
o drew its subject from scriptures, dramatized biblical stories, the major form of medieval drama, characters are biblical or saintly
o illustrated the nonrational aspects of Christian dogma called “mysteries”
o held in huge cathedrals
o sense of spectacle
dominant characteristics of renaissance and court ballets
*birth of ballet
*rebirth of intellect, culture, arts, going back to classical ideas/reawakening
* human centered, human ability
* awakening of questioning and challenging
* invention of the printing press–> spread of info
* shift from religious matters to worldly matters
Renaissance’s reaction to middle ages
Medieval people were God centered, ignoring values of faith, hope, and love–renaissance human centered.
Wanted to escape the darkness and harshness of a semi-barbarous world into heavenly reward promised by christian creed
people centered rather than god centered, univers
called attention to a person’s physical nature as well as the pragmatic advantages of the physical over the spiritual
where were court ballet performed?
Ballrooms with audience sitting on 3 sides all around.
Often performed at large functions such as weddings.
What movement was used in court ballets?
• choreography emphasized the elaborate floor patterns created by lines and groups of dancers
what functions did court ballets serve?
o Used to celebrate great occasions
o Mediated religious quarrels
o used to show wealth and power
o Used to demonstrate to foreigners that France wasn’t totally ruined b/c of wars, internal politics, and religious conflicts

People dancing were people of the court, not professional dancers

Qualifications of the dancer in the court ballet
o Misuro – ability to keep time
o Memoria – the ability to precisely memorize the steps and their sequential ordering
o Partire del terreno – the skill to gauge the movement in its allotted space
o Aiere – the dexterity of the upward lift of the body with its corresponding settling down
o Maniera – the connection f the footwork to the rise and fal of aiere
o Movemento corporeo – the graceful, modest, and sweet comportment of the dancer
elements of geometrical ballets
each pattern represented a moral virtue or an eternal truth echoing the spiritual side of man. Transitions could be abrupt, moving quickly from serious to playful qualities. One after another, forming, breaking, and reforming of shapes symbolized the endless succession of birth and death
small books on sale at ballets, which explained the story scene by scene
Thoinot Arbeau
o Chiefly concerned with discussions of dance steps and notated rhythms and 23 versions of the branle
• While these were originally social dance forms, their steps and rhythms were absorbed into theatrical dance as the forms continued to develop
o Many practical hints for solving technical difficulties were incorporated into Arbeau’s instructions for executing the steps, positions, and dances
Catherine de Medici
o Made her Italian legacy of court ballet a permanent part of French culture when she married into the French royal family
Balthasar de Beaujoyeulx
Court dance master in charge of training dancers and organizing and producing royal entertainments
o Created hybrids of Itallian dance and French masquerades
o Precursors of the French court ballets
Ballet de Polanais
Polish ballet that focused on impressing its elite audience of french courtiers and polish diplomats.
This earned Catherine’s dance master title of “founder of French Court ballet”
Ballet Comique de la Reine
Considered first ever ballet for its 5 hour long plot centered on one theme
Louis XIV
Used Ballet to show power, established dance academy in France. Responsible for shift from amateur to professionalism in ballet dancers
Ballet de la Nuit
ballet where Louis XIV played apollo, the sun King
lasted half a day with diverse elements of nighttime connecting the theme of 45 entrances of danced configurations
Pierre Beauchamp
Main dance master in Boroque era, established 5 main positions of ballet aas wella s plie and relevet
Jean-Baptiste Lully
composer who was the artistic personality during the reign of Louis XIV. Intimate knowledge of the problems of composing music for ballet. Understood the bodys natural rhythmic flow
Danse d’ecole
model institution for dance established within the Academi Royale de Musique. Schooled dancing that required instruction of a teacher to impart its classical rules
Academie Royale de Danse
Royal Academy of Dance established by King Louis XIV. Established dance as important as the military
emphasis of the turnout
allowing body to be more open and expressive to the audience
shift to proscenium stage
enabled perspective
characteristics of the enlightenment
dance becomes professional art, technique is codified, France as the epicenter of ballet, Questioning of power, enlightened monarch instead of absolute monarch (concerned about people, not only on personal power), virtuosity vs. expression. Enlightenment= liberation, freedom, individualism, emphasis on science and reason
changing world-views influence on dance in enlightenment
“i think therefore i am”-Decart, questioning authority, humanistic power is limited, reasoning and idealism over tradition and absolutism. Freedom and change replace power and community
what was valued in dance in 18th century
focus on and advancement of technique–not really about the story
o The molding of the individual dancer as a performing artist → advancement in the dancer’s technique
o The art of choreography was raised to new heights of expressive possibilities by examining the nature of human experience in relation to theatrical dance itself
• Moliere
o Worked with Beauchamp to invent the comedie-ballet
o Comedie ballet — a genre of French drama which mixes a spoken play with interludes containing music and dance
o Moliere, Lully, and Beauchamp assimilated elements of the Italian commedia dell’arte into their joint work
• Raoul Auger Feuillet
o Most important technical writing to emerge from the first years of professional dance
o Dancing master, served as grammarian in Beauchamp’s school
o His writing was essentially a technical manual, serving to stabilize the French ballet terminology
o Systematically arranged existing ballet steps, defined the five classic positions, and developed a system of dance notation
• Pierre Rameau
o Wrote The Dancing Master
o Set down detailed instructions in his book for a courteous demeanor at royal balls, the correct order of proceedings, and the required politeness and reverence between men and women
o Concerned mostly with social dances
o Emphasized opposition in the movement of the arms and legs
o Ultimately he was the foremost dance writer of his day
Opera ballet
18th century form of theatrical dance characterized by 3-5 unrelated plots held together by a theme announced in the prologue.
Ballet d’ action
first type of ballet where the plot is advanced through the movement. Idea of how dance can be expressive within itself without theater and singing. First ballet d’ action was Loves of Venus and Mars choreographed by Noverre
Louis Dupre
God of dance during enlightenment
Gaetan Vestris
important male dancer in enlightenment
Auguste Vestris
song of Gaetan, heightened the demi-character
Francoise Prevost
teacher of Marie Camargo and Marie Salle, considered one of the first famous female dancers.
• What was the debate regarding expression and virtuosity?
o There was much debate as to whether excellent technique (virtuosity) is more important in a dancer as opposed to excellent ability to convey emotions (expression)
o Carmargo (virtuosity) vs. Salle (expression)
Marie Camargo
Famous female dancer in the enlightenment. Very beautiful technical dancer, but lacked expressive qualities. Danced under Prevost and was rivals with Marie Salle. Trained in male style. Known for speed and agility
Marie Salle
Famous female dancer in the enlightenment. Very expressive. Rival of Camargo. Student of prevost. Movement more natural
John Weaver
o Based in London
o The father of English pantomime
o Choreographed The Loves of Mars and Venus
o required a significant amount of gestures due to the story not being expressed in any spoken form
documented dances on paper wrote 7 major points to accomplish a more naturalistic style
Noverre’s 7 points to accomplish naturalistic style
1. Emphasized correctness in dance technique however must be adapted to individual’s anatomy
2. dancer’s personality and artistic style is prerequisite to artistic development
3. stressed validity and sincerity of gestural expression w/in dramatic context
4. logical development of plots that are thematically integrated
5. music must be appropriately suited to the dramatic development of the plot
6. costumes, decor, and lighting must be compatible w/ the introduction, plot, and climax
7. get rid of masks and introduced stage make up
Jean Dauberval
Director of Royal Academy
Maximilien Gardel
Shared dancing roled with Gaetan Vestris. Danced without masks or wigs. He and Dauberval became Vestris’s assistants as dance masters, and later he succeded Noverre
Jean-Phillipe Rameau
French composer and music theorist of Boroque era. Replaced Jean-Baptiste Lully as dominant composer of French Opera. Famous for Treatise on Harmony
Danseur noble
classically proportioned male dancer who excels in the strict style of the danse d’ ecole
middle ground classification of dancer who commands the dignified bearing of a danseur noble combined with virtuoso technique of danseur comique
danseur comique
danced outside the bounds with the danse d’ ecole, exhibiting acrobatic or exagerted elements. Not so good with technique, more comic relief
Characteristics of Romantic era
absolute inwardness, cult of individualism, revolt on emphasis of light and freedom, the darker the better. subjective better than objective, romantic love as birthright of all humans
how was romanticism reaction to the enlightenment?
o believed that the focus on reason and science during the Enlightenment drew away from what was really important – emotion
o all about the human heart
o emotion > reason
o faith > skepticism
o intuition > logic
o subjectivity > objectivity
o night > day
• What were the key tenets of Romantic artists?
o Artists are the isolated “tragic hero”
o absolute originality and artistic inspiration by the individual genius
absolute inwardness
emotions remistify the world, going completely into oneself to experience darkest of emotions. in the night you leave the false world and enter the real one
social and intellectual changes during Romanticism that influenced dance
ballet for the people, attended by middle class citizens, a social experience
innovations in ballet technique that influenced romantic ballet
o Ballerinas began dancing on pointe → idea of defying gravity
o Pas de deux developed
• Supported adagio movements
• Assisted leaps and lifts
• Helped with pointe work b/c balancing was more difficult so the ballerinas needed the help from the males
innovations in theater design that influenced romantic ballet
o The concept of shifting scenes was perfected with the use of imbedded tracks for sliding decorative panels on and off stage
o Trap doors were a major feature b/c evil creatures could “disappear”
o The use of gas lighting increased the potential for atmospheric fantasy
o Gas illumination made gradual variations in light intensity possible and dependable
o House lights were dimmed during the performance
pas d’ action
propels plot forward through dancing. whole story told through ballet. dance is the subject. how the dancers can be expressive and tell a story.
o Beyond technique – creating atmosphere and characterizations
romanticism as age of ballerina
focus on the female dancer, males are the accessories and only support the story and women as if they were the barre
characteristics of dance in romantic ballet
pointe work and cultivation of female dancer
travesty dancer
focus on female ballerina. creating the image of femininity on the stage.
o Usurped the position of the male dancer and as a partner to the ballerina
o Women stepped in to roles previously filled by men
Foyer de la Danse
anecdotes surrounding the ever present young swains who dallied with ravishing danses
the quality of integrity of the opera were lost in the new ballets
major ballets that define romanticism
o Giselle
• a milestone in establishing the choreography as the central means for communicating a narrative
o La Sylphide
• breakthrough in the evolution of the port de bras
Exquisitely delicate arm movements that appeared to be weightlessly responding to the pressure of the air
• Exuberant folk dance steps contrasted with the quality of the ethereal pointe work and soundless ballon
• contained the right balance of reality and supernatural
La Sylphide
• Choreographed by Filippo Taglioni
• Score by Jean-Madeleine Schneitzhoeffer
• Danced by Marie Taglioni
choreographed by Jean Coralli
Theophile Gautier
1811-1872 French author who was a prolific and articulate critic of dance who provided choreographers with well-knit plots for their ballets
Filippo Taglioni
1777-1781. Choreographer of La Sylphide. italian dance master at the paris opera who coached and choreographed his daughter marie Taglioni
Marie Taglioni
1804-1884. First famous female pointe dancer. most renowned romantic ballerina.
Fanny Elsler
1810-1884 child prodigy who possessed extraordinary dance qualities that were opposite to the ethereal Marie. Praised for her superb acting as well as style of movement
Carlotta Grisi
Romantic muse. Italian trained dancer who came from an austrian family of famous and theatrically well-connected opera singers.
Fanny Cerrito
1817-1909 one of a cluster of 5 romantic ballerinas who were super famous
lucien petipa
1819-1907. actively engaged in shaping new ballet style
Jules Perrot
1810-1892 Brilliant dancer who commanded great tradition of ballet. dynamic choreography demonstrated a heightened fusion of dance and story line
Jean coralli
co-choreographer of Gisele
carlo blasis
theorist, choreographer, and teacher. central figure in development of romantic ballet. wrote a book on technique. first to make legs higher and skirts shorter
lucile grahn
dancing conveyed melancholy, grace, abandonment, and nonchalant lightness. replaced fanny elssler in paris opera
o Various ballet steps and gestural motifs clearly associated with each character and corresponding to recurring orchestral passages
o As the ballet progressed these movement motifs and recurring musical themes accumulated, serving to act as visual and aural reminders of the characters passing from one situation to the next
influences of decline of romantic ballet
lack of significant new talent/public understanding of art
practical demands of dancers training were ignored
classes in pantomime hadn’t been taught for some time
state of ballet after romantic era
dance declined to ballroom dancing
product of less talented dhoreographers and libretists
failed to measure up to writings of gauthier
backstage discipline decreased
why was ballet in decline
france had undergone 5 wars, revolution, napoleans downfall, and 3 different regimes
pas de quatre
1845 jules perrot. 4 dancers: taglioni, grisi, cerrito, and grahn
les elements
jules perot
quatre saisons
jules perrot. non narrative ballet
1870, saint leon’s brilliant success. lasting ballet from post-romantic era. combined elements that comprised the repertoire of golden age 30 years earlier
reasserted romantic themes, offering a human heroin, realistic characters, and a village location and dark eerie toy shop
emma livry
marie taglioni’s protege. but her dress caught on fire in a dress rehersal so she died
arthur saint leon
choreographed Coppelia. dancer turned violinist. changed ballet with his music
achieved fame in London and the Paris opera and then went to teach and choreograph for the Royal Danish Opera.
Ballet in Denmark flourished under his direction, becoming a national art in spite of its French Origins
Recorded his thoughts on dance, memories, reflections, and art in Mit TheatreLiv (3 volume biography)
bournoville’s 5 qualities a dancer must have
1. beauty of face and pleasing body proportions
2. development of intellectual qualities
3. grace
4. ability to communicate through gesture
5. proper technique
famous for painting dancers in class
reflected the situation of dancers at the time in that they were all of women
influences of rise of Russian ballet at end of 19th century
Lack of new talent in France influenced decline in dance in France
Novelty of tricks wore off
Less respectable job to be in the ballet
all of these caused decline in dance in France and increase of ballet in Russia
Peter the Great (Russian Czar) toured Europe and brought back ideals of art to Russia
Czarina Anna commissioned French Ballet paster, Jean Baptise Lande to teach court dances to cadets
Marius Pepita
Father of classical ballet. (1818-1910) From France
• French man came to Russia and really developed dance
• Brother of Lucius Petipa who was first man in Gissele
• On his way to Russia stopped in Madrid and became very influenced by Spanish dancing
• Classical ballet from Romantic era were all done by him (Don Quixote)
• ballet vocabulary with Spanish influence
• Most crucial artist is someone who tries to please audience and isn’t trying
• Technique were about fines and use of point work
orchestrated principal dancers, groups of soloists, corps de ballet of his ensemble
aspirations toward virtuosity marked an inevitable moment in the evolution of ballet
Petipa’s major ballets
Nutcracker, sleeping beauty, swan lake
what was ballet technique like during imperial russian ballet
Didelot worked to improve technique by refining pirouettes.
Excercises to strengthen female dancer’s feet for demands of pointe
intensified study of mime and music lessons
what were major characteristics of petipa’s ballets?
• “Ballet is a serious art form in which beauty must dominate—the ballet is dying in France, and the ballet in Russia is not dying as long as the Italian influence is felt”
• Idea that tricks of flexibility are just showing off
• Italian school was advancing technique
• Heavy on expression and virtuosity to create firey mood and passion
emerged from Didelot’s second period in St. Petersberg.
feverish partisanship overtaking avid male enthusiasts from the moment of their initial infection with the art to their acquisition of connoisseurship
Charles Didelot
Brought pointe to russia
presented idea of ballerina occasionally rising on tips of her slippers
developed more advanced technology in service of theatrical illusion
Maryinsky Theater
where italian opera was presented and Petipa would present his work
Lev Ivonov
• Petipa’s assistant
• Choreographed nutcracker completely—petipa had idea and began production but then got sick
One of the most musical choreographers in history.
earliest pioneer of symphonic ballet
choreographed acts II and IV of Swan Lake
composer of:
• Nutcracker
• Swan Lake
• Sleeping Beauty
• Revolutionary way of using music—score being created after dance, bigger music, symphonic music
• Worked with Petipa
• Music for ballet wasn’t seen as important until him