It should come as no surprise to anyone that ballet, which originated sometime around 1459, has undergone a few changes. Most of the time those changes were very, very minor, such as changing the length of the costumes or modifying what moves were made, but there is one time when major changes were made.
The World Experiences Major Changes to Ballet with Neoclassicism
Each and every ballet performed before neoclassicism told a story. Using elaborate scenery, detailed costumes, intricate dance technique, and bold movements that were carefully choreographed to music, the dancers brought the story to life. That all changed with neoclassicism.
Major changes came to the ballet world once neoclassicism influenced how choreographers and directors staged dance productions. Instead of focusing on an elaborate, detailed story and putting on a massive production, neoclassical-inspired ballet wanted people to focus on the dancers and their movements. It basically took away all the frills of ballet and put the focus on the dancers and their talent.
Some of the changes that were made to help audiences focus more on the dancers and less on the whole story included using simple, yet elegant costumes, lighting the stage with bright, non-distracting colors, removing elaborate scenery, and allowing dancers to perform without the need to tell a specific detailed story.
In addition to the changes in production, such as costumes worn and scenery used, changes occurred to how the dancers danced. Neoclassical ballets started to incorporate new dance moves that showcased a dancer’s beautiful lines, strength, extreme flexibility, and grace.
When Did Neoclassical Ballet Become Popular?
If you were to break ballet up into separate groups based on style, you would have six different categories. Neoclassical ballet, as seen in the visual timeline, occurred right in between romantic ballet – which is traditional ballet with the tutus and pointe shoes – and contemporary ballet – which is more modern, free and less rigid.
The Most Popular Neoclassical Ballet Choreographer – George Balanchine
Choreographers all over the world started to incorporate neoclassical elements into their ballets. However, the most popular and well-known neoclassical ballet choreographer was George Balanchine.
George Balanchine changed the ballet world forever with his neoclassical ballets. His productions featured new dance moves that weren’t previously seen in other styles of dance. He also encouraged audiences to focus more on the dancers and less on the overall show.
To get audiences to focus solely on the dancers, he removed the elaborate costumes and often had dancers appear on stage in tights and mono-colored leotards.