Russian Ballet History

Diaghilev's Ballets Russes 1909-1929

Ballet Training Methods

There are several different training methods for learning the art of ballet. Each training method is unique in style and appearance.  In the course of ballet training, it is likely that a ballet instructor will combine the training methods of two schools. Some teachers use one method as a base and add style elements of another to create a unique approach.

Carlo Blasis (Nov. 4, 1797 - Jan. 15, 1878)

Carlo Blasis was an Italian dancer, choreographer and dance theoretician. He is well known for his very rigorous dance classes, sometimes lasting four hours long.

Blasis was born in Naples. He was the first who published an analysis on the ballet techniques in 1820, in a work named Traité élémentaire, théorique, et pratique de l'art de la danse ("Elementary, Theoretical, and Practical Treatise on the Art of the Dance"). He is most known for the pose "Attitude" derived from the famous statue Mercury by Giovanni da Bologna. Enrico Cecchetti expanded his method of instruction and theories.

From 1838 to 1853, Blassis was the Artistic Director of what is now the La Scala Theatre Ballet School.  Blasis died in Cernobbio.

Enrico Cecchetti  (June 21, 1850, Rome – November 13, 1928, Milan)

The Cecchetti method is a ballet technique and training system devised by the Italian ballet master and pedagogue Enrico Cecchetti.  The Cecchetti method, is a strict training system with special concern for anatomy within the confines of classical ballet technique, and seeks to develop the essential characteristics of dance in its students through a rigid training regime. The goal is for the student to learn to dance by studying and  the basic principles, in an effort to become self-reliant rather than imitating the movements executed by their teacher.  The training method is traditionally taught as a series of graded examinations progressing from beginner to professional level.

Agrippina Vaganova (July 6, 1879 - November 5, 1951)

Agrippina Yakovlevna Vaganova was a Russian ballet teacher who developed the Vaganova method - the technique which derived from the teaching methods of the old Imperial Ballet School (today the Vaganova Academy of Russian Ballet) under the Premier Maître de Ballet Marius Petipa throughout the mid to late 19th century, though mostly throughout the 1880s and 1890s. It was Vaganova who perfected and cultivated this form of teaching the art of classical ballet into a workable syllabus. Her Fundamentals of the Classical Dance (1934) remains a standard textbook for the instruction of ballet technique. Her technique is one of the most popular techniques today.

Royal Academy of Dance

The Royal Academy of Dance (RAD) is an international dance education and training organization, and examination board that specialises in the teaching and technique of Ballet. The RAD was established in London, England in 1920 as the Association of Operatic Dancing of Great Britain, and received its Royal Charter in 1936. HM Queen Elizabeth II is currently the patron of the RAD and Dame Antoinette Sibley has served as President since 1991.

The RAD was created with the objective to improve the standard of ballet training in the UK and, in pursuit of that goal, a new teaching method and dance technique was devised for the Academy by a group of eminent European dancers. The RAD is one of the largest dance organisations in the world with over 13,000 members in 79 countries, including over 7000 who hold Registered Teacher Status. There are currently over 1,000. R.A.D students in full-time or part-time RAD teacher training programmes and each year the examinations syllabi are taught to over 250,000 students

Bournonville Style

August Bournonville was heavily influenced by the early French school of ballet, which he preserved in his teaching and choreography, when the traditional French methods began to disappear from European ballet.  What is considered today to be the "Bournonville style" is essentially the unfiltered 19th century technique of the French school of classical dance.

The technique features very basic use of arms, usually keeping them in preparatoire position. Perpetual use of simple diagonal epaulements. Vocabulary for men is essentially varied forms of beats. Pirouettes are taken with a low developpe into seconde, then from seconde, for outside turns, and with a low developpe into 4th for inside turns. Also common are the dramatic use of fifth position bras en bas (preparatory position) for beginning and ending movements. The style has many recognizable poses such as pointe derriere one arm in 5th, the other a la taille (at the waist), with a touch of epaulement. F

George Balanchine (January 22, 1904 - April 30, 1983)

The Balanchine Method is a ballet technique and training system devised by the Russian dancer and choreographer George Balanchine and initially used at the New York City Ballet. It requires extreme speed, very deep plie, unconventional arms and hands, and emphasis on lines, especially in decale. En-dehors pirouettes are often taken from a 4th position (legs) with straightened back leg and extended front arm (i.e., a lunge, as opposed to a plie). Also notable is the distinctive arabesque, with the dancer's hip opened towards the audience while the side arm is pressed back, using a spiral to create the illusion of a longer, higher arabesque line. The overall illusion of the Balanchine Method is that dancers are utilizing more space in less time: speed, height, length and a syncopated musicality are created.

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