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A Brief History of Ballet ballet n 1A classical dance form characterized by grace and precision of movement and by elaborate formal gestures steps and poses 2A theatrical presentation of group or solo dancing to a musical accompaniment usually with costume and scenic effects conveying a story or theme 3A musical composition written or used for this dance form 4A company or group that performs ballet French from Italian balletto diminutive of ballo dance from ballare to dance See ballerina Marie Taglioni often gets the credit and the blame for being the first to dance on pointe but no one really knows for sure It is established that in 1832 Marie Taglioni danced in the full length La Sylphide on pointe But almost certainly there were dancers before her who rose onto the tips of their toes Its even possible that Mme Camargo had done so one hundred years before There are references in different texts of various ballerinas with fantastic toes or of falling off her toes Taglioni herself most likely danced on pointe before La Sylphide But whoever was first it was Taglioni who pioneered and developed the technique and who revolutionized ballet as a result She transformed dancing en pointe What had been merely a stunt and a kind of circus trick became a means of artistic expression a dramatic as well as a technical feat Her grace lightness elevation and style earned her an adoring audience and a brilliant career Before we consider what Taglioni did and how she did it lets look at why she rose on pointe at all The 1830s were the heart of the Romantic Age The artists and poets of this era were often concerned with beauty passion with nature and with the supernatural with the power of love The great Romantic ballets of the time are almost always passionate but tragic encounters between a mortal terrestrial man and supernatural female The
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