Although the origins of ballet can be traced back to the Renaissance period and the early court dances in France and Italy, it has become an art form that finds its inspiration globally.
At first, any celebratory occasion, such as the birth of an heir or an influential marriage would call for social court dancing. But it has since become a widespread, highly technical form of dance with its own vocabulary based on French terminology.
Classic ballets always included a pas de deux (dance for two) for the male and female lead dancers followed by a difficult solo for each one of them and a coda (a short quick finale) in which the two leads dance together again.
Russian classical ballet took off in St. Petersburg in the late 1800s with the more challenging choreography. As the technical abilities of the dancers increased, full‐length classic ballets were created for them to dance.
Women’s costumes became shorter, and the classical tutu became popular. This allowed the dancers to move more easily and also enabled the audience to see the dancers’ legs and feet as they executed the difficult steps.
Many of the ballets choreographed at this time, including Swan Lake, The Sleeping Beauty, and The Nutcracker are still performed today and are some of the most beloved ballets of all time.
The origin of The Nutcracker, a classic Christmas Story, is a fairy tale ballet in two acts centered on a family’s Christmas Eve celebration. It is Alexandre Dumas Père’s (A Frenchman) adaptation of the story by E.T.A. Hoffmann (A German) was set to music by Tchaikovsky (A Russian).
The Nutcracker Ballet is performed each holiday season at Raue Center and features the Berkshire Ballet Theatre.