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The first ballet in America was performed by Alexander Placide and his wife, Mme, in Charleston in 1791. Newfoundland saw ballet companies visiting the colonies as early as 1735. But the then religious (Puritan) society strongly discouraged any form of arts, be it ballet, dancing, or theater.
In 1835, Paul H. Hazard and his wife, who were members of the Paris Opera, settled in Philadelphia to open the first ballet school. The famous American ballet dancers George Washington Smith, Mary Ann Lee, and Augusta Maywood were students of this school.
Watching a ballet dancer perform gracefully in front of our eyes is a mesmerizing experience. Everyone has to watch a ballet show at least once in their lifetime.
Growth of Ballet in the US
Ballet was also brought to North America by immigrants. European ballet dancers toured the North American continent during the 19th century. Though the dancers and groups were highly popular, they were welcomed with open arms.
However, things slowed during the 20th century. Only a handful of ballet companies/ groups continued to tour. They weren’t known in regions not exposed to ballet dancing. That meant, apart from a few major cities in the US, the ballet groups didn’t have much area to cover.
Fortunately, many ballet schools were opened during the 1920s and 30s, which kept ballet dancing alive in the country to date. Many famous ballet dancers opened their own schools to continue teaching ballet to more people, even as new ballet styles were developed over the years.
Traditional ballet has changed forms over the years to arrive at the modern style we see today. What started as Classical, with focus on coordination, symmetry, emotions, and costumes as the focal points, morphed into Neoclassical, where agility and powerful movements became the trademarks of ballet. It is also known for abstractness. This development took place during the 20th century as ballet master George Balanchine decided to do away with over-dramatization.
The American Ballet Theatre followed the Classical ballet style. Swan Lake and Sleeping Beauty are performed in this traditional style.
The Romantic ballet style has passion, drama, and storytelling blending with eye-catchy costumes and aesthetics. A visual treat, indeed. As the world progressed, the Contemporary ballet style was developed to encourage experimentation. The ballet dancers chose faster tempo, complicated steps, and sophisticated narratives that suited the then current social conditions. It is also known as Modern ballet, as it is a blend of classical ballet and modern dance form.
It’s no good waiting until the last minute to book the tickets for ballet shows. You can now easily buy tickets online for ballet shows and enjoy the range of styles and dance forms presented by the dancers.