Though dance styles may incorporate elements of various origins, some styles are able to claim ownership through their consistency. Their dance style origins being so widespread and diverse we cannot as a consensus define their ownership. Early ballet was thought to transcend a man’s passions and desires in a way that was redirected toward God through movement and storytelling. Aristotle thought ballet to express the actions, custom’s and desires of men (Homans). It was thought that the spread of the arms and legs in such a way was a perfect mathematical proportion in 1636 by Abbe Mersenne, known as the ‘great ballet master.’ Ballet sought to combine poetry and motion and has continued this tradition whether it is Americanized and the expression of modern literature and story or that of ancient Greek tragedy. While ballet has not been able to retain the festival atmosphere that once reigned as ballet was performed for the royal court, the romanticism and idealism has remained.

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In ballet, there is a constant state of readiness; balance crucial as the artist is ever poised and ready for fluid and smooth movements that take talent and dedicated practice, agility, and training. Movement and especially discipline have been borrowed from ballet as well as other traditional art forms such as Japanese Kabuki through all genres and theatrical productions. Character and meaning are formed with the use of props and dramatic scene changes, and ballet was thought to be at one time of nobility and a great spectacle (Homans). Opera gave way to ballet it moved from court to theater and from social to theatrical dance. Choreographers authored ballets through printed scenarios or notated forms (Foster). Early nineteenth century ballet provided a precise and singular model of control over ones every movement in dance.

The actual art of the ballet remains ballet despite incorporating other styles and movements; to define ownership of the ballet dance becomes much more difficult as it has taken on new characteristic’s though retaining those that define it as ballet. The traditional ballet retains its foundation. We now see ballet in many forms, often without storylines characteristic the age-old vocabulary of ballet. Ballet has taken on modern energetic stylistics forms that retain their familiar and comfortable ballet definition (Campbell). The ballet form itself has been expressed all over the world making the concept of ownership difficult to continue to grasp as belonging to an individual. Its origins and ownership are the traditional movements and choreography that allow ballet to be recognized consistently as ballet.

We can now view ballet in many different styles and venues that have originated from theatrical and festival atmospheres. They no longer are limited to those able to attend or be a part of ballet or train in ballet. Ballet is also no longer associated with religion, or the theory that merely through ballet a man’s desires and passions are expressed. The atmosphere of ballet has changed significantly to meet the desires of today’s audience, reflecting modern day societies and literature rather than ancient tales or traditions. Russian ballet was different from that of the French, Italian, and Greek though music and mime have been a consistent thread throughout the history of ballet.

Cultural borrowing has occurred across the world in ballet. We now have a combination of the major influential movements of ballet in our most valued and prized performances. It would be impossible to state that there is ownership in ballet because of the diversity of ballet’s background. Russian theatre, Royal Dutch performances, even Latin performances.

  • Campbell, Karen. “Dances Blend Ballet, Modern Style.” Boston Globe: 0. Apr 15 2002. ProQuest. Web. 27 Sep. 2013.
  • Foster, Susan. “Governing the Body.” Choreography and Narrative: Ballets Staging of Story and Desire. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1998. 138-75. Print.
  • Homans, Jennifer. “Kings of Dance.” Apallo’s Angels. New York: Random House, 2010. 3-48. Print.