Types of Ballet - Styles, Methods and Techniques of Ballet

Ballet Vintage

Styles of Ballet

Earlier styles were connected with geographical origin, like French ballet, Italian ballet, and Russian ballet. Later styles combined classical ballet and other dance techniques, like neoclassical ballet and contemporary ballet.

In the 19th century, romantic era brought romantic ballet style, the most performed classical ballet style. In the center of attention are ballerinas, female dancers, in classical short white tutus. They often played the role of mystical female that enslaved mortal men's heart. Characteristics of this style are pointe work, precise body movements, and intense emotions. Best known romantic ballets are La Sylphide and Coppélia.

Classical ballet style , like French, Italian and Russian, is characterized by classical ballet vocabulary and techniques. Classical ballet has training methods which often got their names by their creators, like Cecchetti method, after Italian ballet dancer Enrico Cecchetti. In 1920 in London was created a Royal Academy of Dance method. This English style merged French, Italian, Russian and Danish styles. Best known classical ballets are by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, like The Nutcracker and Swan Lake.

Neoclassical ballet style opposite to classical ballet has abstract elements, as no strict scenery, plot and costumes and minimal set design. It eliminates the formalities and opens up to modern techniques and ideas. Modern ballet style emerged from neoclassical ballet style. Opposed to delicate moves greater athleticism was favored.

Contemporary ballet style utilized ballet techniques, like classical ballet and elements from modern, ethnic and jazz styles and allows experimentations with ballet and modern dance. There is a fine line between contemporary ballet and contemporary dance, and also between contemporary ballet and neoclassical and modern ballet. Dancers moves are bigger, faster, and so it is characterized by robust athleticism, floor work, turn-in of the legs, dancing barefoot, acting and mime.

Methods of Ballet

Methods represent formalized and standardized classical ballet training systems, often founded by one creator or a ballet group.

Italian ballet style has Cecchetti method named by ballet dancer Enrico Cecchetti.

Russian ballet style has Vaganova method named by dancer Agrippina Vaganova and Legat method named by Nikolai Legat.

English ballet style has Royal Academy of Dance training system that was created by the group of professional ballet dancers.

Ballet Performance Types

French and American ballet style are not standardized as training system or method by one creator. French ballet style has training system from groups like Paris Opera Ballet School.

Techniques of Ballet

Ballet technique formalized methods and execution of body movement. They define toe pointing, body posture, arm movement and mode of turn. A great part of ballet training drill are ballet techniques. They are practiced to become a part of ballet dancers, to develop aesthetics of ballet and avoid injuries.

Ballet terminology has a great vocabulary that defines formalized positions or movements.

  • Ballon technique means that ballet dancer appears lightfooted while jumping and looks lightweight like defying gravity.
  • Bravura is the showy style of ballet dance that consists of a lot of elaborate steps.
  • Pirouette is a non-traveling turn on one leg and consists of one or more rotations.
  • Pointe technique means dancing on the tips of fully extended feet.
  • The split is a position of legs where they are extended in opposite directions. Straddle split means that legs stand to the side. The front split means that one leg stands forward, and the other stands back.
  • Plié is a continuous bending of the knee outward with the upper body part held upright.
  • Grand jeté is a long horizontal jump starting from one leg and landing on the other.
  • Turnout technique means to finish movements with legs rotated outward.
  • Assemblé means jump that lands on two feet.
  • Fouetté is a move where a quick pivot on the supporting leg changes the orientation of the body and the working leg.
  • Port de bras technique means to move arms gracefully to different positions.
  • Alignment technique means to keep head, shoulders and hips vertically aligned.
  • Cambré technique means bending body from the waist forward, backward, to the side or circular and bringing back to center.
  • Arabesque position of the body means that ballet dancer stands on one supporting leg held straight, and another leg is turned out and extended behind the body held straight.