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Dancing Through History

Sophomore Grace Sehulster has a ton of homework, but that doesn’t stop her from dancing for a little bit. She turns on her favorite song and starts to loosen her body. She lets her body follow with the music and frees herself. Time seems to have stopped when her mom comes in to tell her that she should really start her homework. Grace looks at the clock and realizes she had been dancing for over 2 hours! She sits down to do her homework, still dancing in her head.

Dance can be seen as a sport because your body burns calories and raises your heartbeat, however, it is really all about art. With your body, you can express your feelings, your opinions, and even tell a story. Dance is a way to free your body and test your limits as well. Dance can also be used to connect music with body. There are many things you can learn from dancing. Grace shares what she has learned:

“I learned how to grow my determination and how to manage my time as well.”
Grace Sehulster (2021)

There are many different styles and categories of dance. For example there is ballet, tap, contemporary, modern, character, hip hop, jazz and lyrical. This article is going to focus on ballet starting with a little history of ballet. Ballet has been around for over 500 years. It has changed over time but, it’s elegance has kept its place. Ballet is very complicated and is a very difficult profession. The concept of ballet itself was different centuries ago. It was more dances that everybody could take part in. Ballet’s history starts in the 1500s when Catherine de Medici gets married to King Henry II. She introduced dance styles that came to be used in court life (A Brief History of Ballet). Although Catherine didn’t invent ballet, she popularized it. Ballet positions were made in 1588 by Pierre Beauchamp. Dance steps were composed of small hops, slides, curtsies, promenades, and gentle turns (A Brief History of Ballet). Not much was different about ballet because it was very similar to court dances (History of Ballet).

During the 1600s, the expansion of ballet sparked. It spread to Germany, Spain, Portugal, Poland, and many other countries (History of Ballet). The 1600s was when ballet started to become more recognized around the world. Many people started to have interest in ballet and so a school was opened in France in 1661. King Louis XIV opened it, and was called the “Académie Royale de Danse.” (History of Ballet). King Louis XIV loved ballet and loved dancing himself. From then on, ballet started to become more popular among citizens.

Moving on to the 1800s and 1900s, ballet slowly starts to shape itself to what it is today. Several ballerinas began experimenting with dancing en pointe, bringing pointe shoes to ballet in the early 1820s (History of Ballet). This was a big turning point in the history of ballet. By 1850, Russia had become the center of the dance world (A Brief History of Ballet). By the 1900s, pointe work started to become a norm among ballet dancers (A Brief History of Ballet). More ballet masterpieces were created as well such as Giselle and La Sylphide (A Brief History of Ballet). Ballet was now something the majority of people came to see, not take part in like the court dances of the 1500s.

As you can see, ballet is one of the longest-lasting types of dance. There are many stereotypes about ballet. Many people think that ballet is just girls spinning and twirling in pink tutus. Grace says ballet is hard because, “You have to focus on your thighs and calves, feet positioning, breathing, balance, arm positioning, head positioning, your gaze, and your alignment all the while retaining a formula for the move.” They think it’s easy and useless. It’s not their fault though because the stereotype is just too big and they don’t know better. Ballet takes amazing control, balance, strength and mind. The reason people think ballet is easy is because the people they’ve seen dance are making it look easy. The biggest reason ballet is so hard is because you can’t show how hard it is. You always need to look graceful and as if you’re floating. People need to know more about ballet so that these stereotypes change and it isn’t neglected.

Fun Fact: Ballet started with only men.


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