|early development of the ballet as well.
It is said that the very first 'Spectacle' to lead the way of the Ballet was in 1448 when Milan's Duke of Galcazzo had just married Isabel of Aragon. Bergonzio di Botta of Torton gave a fete or Festilina (Feasting dance or Bacchus) in the Dukes Honor. This Fete was an affair to end all others and all Europe had gossiped about it for months and months, while even by today's standards it would be considered spectacular. Paintings, Sculptures and moveable scenaries were used as accessories. This fete would be copied many times over and would be usually held at night and soon become the principle amusement for all great occasions in European courts. This truly began the Ballet.
The word Ballet comes from the Italian word Ballare (in Latin means: to dance), through the Italian "balletto" and is generally thought to be the creation of Baitazarini di Beigioioso of Tortona (Bergonzio di Botta) and in ancient Greek, The word "ballizo" (âáëëßæù) meant "to dance alone." Henrick Isaak (1450-1517), a Dutch composer while working in Italy composed some "Carnival Songs" as well as the creating of the "Ballo" (a dance) accompanied by his own Ballo music, the dancers also being the singers. The English word Ballad comes from this source which literally means "a song for dancing."
Around 1530, Aglio, the Count of Savoy prepared and acted Ballets with the Prince's and Princesses of his Court. The main experiment in Ballet came from the court of France when Catherine de Medici (1519-1589) along with Henry II (r.1547-1559) brought a dance master in from Italy by the name of Baitazarini. On 10/15/1581, Catherine would hold the first Ballet called the "Ballet Comique de la Reine," for the Duc de Joyeux's marriage. A violinist named Beujoyeux who would later become the Valet De Chambre (dance master) designed this Ballet.
The Ballet de Comique de la Reine would provide the essential ingredients and to form the pattern of Ballet from previous efforts. Baif would introduce to France the allegorical, moral and ludicrous ballets to court. The Court ballet was also introduced around this time and found great favor with King Henry III and King Louis XIV. Louis XIV would help to make the Ballet one of the biggest sensations the world had known and XIV also performed in many ballets in his youth himself. Louis founded the Academy of the Art of Dancing in Paris in 1661 as well as other Arts institutions. In 1588, a French dance master by the name of Thoinot Arbeau wrote a treatise on dance (book) entitled "Orchesographi" which today is considered a record of the Ballet and it's music. This treatise would be the main source for France to establish a higher position than Italy in developing the Ballet. In it, he describes the dances done in Ballets, such as the Volte, Gavotte, Courante, Allemande, Moresque, and Branle's. He described the dances in a notation system as well the technique used such as "Turned out feet" which led to the "Five Absolute Foot positions" in dance which were later formulated by Pierre Beauchamps (1635-1709).
Of the Russian Ballet, Charles Louis Didelot (1767-1837) is considered the father of the Russian Ballet, however, it is said to have been introduced into Russia by the Tsar, (Romanov ruler) who reigned from 1645 by the name of Alexis Mikhailovich (1629-1676) during his wedding. Later, Peter the Great (Peter I,) who reigned around 1682/3 became very fond of dancing and western dances in particular in his court. Peter would take part in the dances as well. Empress Anne (Anne I-1693-1740) aka the Tsarina, who reigned from 1730, was also very fond of dancing and had young dancers trained in the ballet at the Imperial School for Cadets. Jean Baptiste Lande taught dancing at the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg in 1738. The first Heroic Russian ballet was composed by Domenico Angiolini (1731-1803) in St. Petersburg as well (Angiolini was an Italian dancer and brought to Russia by Russian Empress *Catherine the Great [1729-1796] in 1765.) Dancers who helped shape the Russian ballet were many such as Marius Patipa (1818-1910,) Jules Perrot, Chris Johansson (1817-1903) who primarily formed the distinct style of the Kirov Dancers.
The first appearance of women in the Ballet came when dance master Jean Baptist Lully (1632-1687) presented "Le Triomphe de l'Amour" in 1668 that included for the first time four female dancers. Before this, boys in wigs and or masks performed all the female parts. Maximilien Gardel (1741-1787) would later discard the masks used in the Ballet in 1772. He did this while dancing on stage to let the audience know it was he, not Gaetan Vestris dancing (Vestris did it earlier in Medea & Jason- 1770). The early ballet consisted of mostly social dances of the day such as the Gavotte, Pavane, Allemande etc. Marie Carmago (1710-1770) is credited with trying to enlarge the variety of steps and dances from these mentioned. Georges Noverre (1727-1809) would make many changes in the ballet, which are still used to this day.
There were many others who helped this dance grow, but space is limited. Ballerinas rose to the "Point of the Toe", which is called "sur les pointes" (toe dance). This made the heroines of the Ballet become "ethereal creatures" who inhabited the air, who rose from the grave as if she had no contact with the earth at all. Sylphides, Naiads, Fairies, and other enchanted species traveled the air and played a big part in these early Ballets. This ethereal effect is what led to Ballerinas dancing on point. Fanny Bias in 1821 and Marie Taglioni (1804-1884) in "la Sylphides" in 1832 danced on toe (entrechat.) Many mechanical devices were developed and came to be used to assist this ethereal process as far back as 1796 by Charles Ludwig Didelot (1767-1837).
The first ballet seen in New York City was called the "Bird Catcher," presented in 1792 by Alexander Placide and his wife as well as John Durang being in this company as well. The "Turnout" of the feet of the ballet dancer became favorable around 1588 and has proven irreplaceable over time. Marie Taglioni introduced the Tutu, which is accepted as the standard costume today, in the ballet "La Sylphides." Eugene Lamy designed this tutu (wonder what type of material he used ... Lamay?... lol ... just kidding).
When ballet declined in Western Europe (France and Italy), Russia then became the main field for the ballet dancer. Hollywood would later capture an essence of the ballet and Agnes de Mille and Ballanchine would lead the way thru cinematography. Many dancers would help spread the love of Ballet. Dancers like Pavlova, Mordkin, Taglioni, Camargo, Essler, Baryshnikov (sp?), Ted Shawn, Fonteyn, Toumanova etc. All styles and forms of dance had ratings when performed and would be reported as follows:
1) Lowest degree was called "Grotesque." Which meant the dancer was unsteady, movements were Imposing while demanding ... skill rather than gracefulness.
2) The second degree was called "Comic." Generally steadier than the first, representing the customs, Pastimes, or romances of the lower classes.
3) The third degree was called "Demi-charactre." This class exemplified affairs of ordinary life such as a love story or plot was representing the common people.
4) The fourth degree was called "Serious dances." These were usually found upon the tragic staging. This represented the highest possible degree of skill and elegance.
5) The fifth degree was known as "Pantomimic or Ballet." These acts conveyed the entire act through Dance (no sopken words).