Ballet began during the Renaissance in Italy and was originally meant just for men. It began around the year 1500. Many of the traditional ballets we see today were invented around the 1930s. Ballet was introduced to France when Catherine de Medici of Italy married the French King Henry II. The first costumes were layers upon layers of clothing and masks that, while beautiful to look at they were very hard to dance in. The dancer´s shoes were similar to the theatre shoes we see today, the pointe shoe and the soft soled shoes were not yet invented. The official terminology was developed over the next 100 years or so during the reign of Louis the XLV. Ballet was performed in courts by hired dancers but the kings also sometimes performed.
While all this was happening Russia was developing its own style of ballet. By 1850 Russia was the leading creativity center of the dance world. This caused dancing en pointe (on the toe) was invented and became popular. By this point, costumes have evolved into long length tutus which are now commonly referred to as romantic tutus. When dancers began dancing on pointe the tutus got shorter and shorter in order to show of the pointe work until they reached the platter tutu. You still see both the platter and romantic tutu in ballets today. Russia is still a leading country in the world of ballet.
In the early 20th century the Russian theatre producer Serge Diaghilev brought together some of that country's most talented dancers, choreographers, composers, singers, and designers. He formed a group called the Ballet Russes. They presented a variety of ballets while touring America and Europe. Thus, making ballet popular in America. George Balanchine was part of the Ballet Russes and settled down in the U.S. Another person was Adolph Bolm who was the founder of the San Francisco Ballet. Diversity was not always accepted in the ballet world. But in Misty Copeland became the first African American principal dancer.
Story by Maddy Peeples