Day 32 of 84 Days of 84 Ribbons: Ballet in the 1800s
Ballet began to flourish in the 1800s as dancers became trained individuals. They improved their skills, females began dancing on pointe and dancers used their entire bodies to share their character’s emotions. Full length ballets were created giving ensembles performance pieces as well as giving dance leads specific solos. This was the era of story ballets: Sleeping Beauty, Swan Lake and the Nutcracker, all ballets still performed around the world.
This is also the period when costumes were designed to show off the dancer’s foot and leg work. Tutus became popular for females. The fabrics selected often helped/help an audience feel the floating quality of their movements and set the tone for the dances: willowy nymphs, swans, young village maidens, queens, sorcerers or whomever the dancer represents. The fact that theatres gave up their candles for lighting in favor of gas lamps provided more options and better viewing as well. Seamstresses began embellishing costumes, adding colorful details and headpieces as the art form grew. It wouldn’t be until 1900, however, when ballet truly emerged to become an art form witnessed by millions of people every year.