Ballet Arrives in France Catherine de Medici was the daughter of a politically powerful and wealthy merchant family. In 1533, Pope Clement VII arranged her marriage with Henry, Duke of Orleans. In 1547, he becomes King Henry the II of France.
Ballet Arrives in France To her new home land, Catherine brings her love of the arts. She made Italian pageants a part of the French court. In 1581, Catherine de Medici arrange or produces the first known ballet, Le Ballet Comique de la Reine and commissions her head ballet master, Balthasar de Beaujoyeux to choreograph the spectacle.
Ballet Arrives in France Le Ballet Comique de la Reine was a celebration of the marriage between Duke de Joyeuse and Margaret of Lorraine as well as a demonstration of the French court’s political and economic power.
The Court Ballets of France Le Ballet Comique de la Reine was a celebration of the marriage between Duke de Joyeuse and Margaret of Lorraine as well as a demonstration of the French court’s political and economic power. The ballet was the most expensive and elaborate court events staged at the time.
The Court Ballets of France These ballets were performed predominately by male nobility again a sign of political power as well as male prowess and virility.
The Court Ballets of France The most prominent and well known dancer of court ballets was King Louis the IVX.King Louis the IVX
King Louis the IVX of France King Louis was a very proficient dancer and is recognized by dance historians today as the first ballet superstar. He was also known as the Sun King as well as Louis the Great.
King Louis the IVX of France Ballet was so important in King Louis’ court that it was essential for French nobility to learn ballet technique, comportment and etiquette. Proximity to the King during a his court ballets was a sign of one’s standing. One mistake or error and an individual could find himself falling out of favor with the King and be far away from the King in the next court ballet.
During King Louis reign ballet became more standardized. In 1661, King Louis establishes the first dance academy in Paris (Academie Royale de la Danse) and appoints Pierre Beauchamps as its first superintendent. The academy is so successful that King Louis opens the Academie Royale de Musique et de la Danse and appoints composer and dancing master Jean Lully Baptiste as its head. King Louis the IVX of France Pierre Beauchamp Jean Lully Baptiste
Eventually the two schools are merged to form the Paris Opera Ballet which continues to be the oldest ballet and ballet academy in the world. Paris Opera Ballet By the end of the 1600s, we see the development of the first proscenium stage or the modern theatrical stage. Between the establishment of the academies and the proscenium stage led to major changes in ballet technique. The Professionalization of Ballet
Pierre Beauchamp begins to codify five basic ballet positions and adopting the outward rotation of the leg to better display dance movement in the new theatrical environment. The Professionalization of Ballet
With these changes ballet becomes more technical requiring more precise training. It evolves into a theatrical art performed by professionals as opposed to the favored past-time of male nobility. Aristocratic men take on the role of supporting ballet financially. Women (predominately poor women) enter the ballet academies and increasingly dominate the stage. The Professionalization of Ballet
Mlle. LaFontaine is the first professional female dancer. She performs in many ballets created by Jean Lully Baptiste. Little is known about her other than she was admired for her elegance and grace. She later retired and became a nun. The Professionalization of Ballet
Marie Salle becomes the next well known ballerina to grace the European stages. Marie Salle She made her debut in 1718 in La Princesse Carisme. Salle was a dance reformer altering the conventional dance costumer to promote ease of movement. The Professionalization of Ballet
Marie de Camargo was Salle’s rival. She made her debut in Paris in 1726 at the age of 15. Marie de Camargo Camargo was known for her elaborate footwork, and musicality. She shortened her skirt so that she could display her footwork more readily. It was unheard of for a woman at that time to show her ankles. The Professionalization of Ballet
Noverre was known as the “Shakespeare of Ballet. He created 150 ballets none of which have survived. Noverre Today he is best known for his Lettres sur la danse et les ballets. Jean-George Noverre
Lettres sur la danse et les ballets set the bar for ballet training, choreography and costuming. Noverre’s influence is felt in the world of ballet and theatrical dance to this very day. Jean-George Noverre
1725, French dancing master, Pierre Rameau writes Dancing Master 1738 Jean-Baptistes Lande founed the Imperial School of Ballet in St. Petersburg, Russia. 1791, first American ballet company performs in Charleston, NC. Other Important Dates
Andros on Ballet History of Ballet Metamorphoses of Court Ballet and Louis the IVX Jean-Georges Noverre Additional Links