Classical Ballet is known for its rigorous technique, flowing and precise movements, lithe aesthetics, and ethereal qualities. This style is characterized by tradition and employs techniques and tools (pointe shoes, tutus, etc.) that have been handed down over the centuries. There are several stylistic variations of classical ballet that relate to the origin of their development: the French School, the Vaganova (Russian) method, the Cecchetti (Italian) method, the Bournonville method, the Balanchine (American) method, and the Royal Academy of Dance (English) method. Each of these styles place a different emphasis on certain elements of classical ballet technique and produce dancers with diverse talents and qualities.
Classical Ballet technique is based upon the five positions of the feet, legs, and arms, which were developed in the 1600’s and codified by King Louis XIV, dance director Jean-Baptiste Lully, and ballet-master Pierre Beauchamp. The vocabulary is taught in French (out of respect for ballet’s origins in France) and utilizes the principles of turnout (external rotation of the thighs from the hips) and aplomb (balance and stability).
Check out the video playlist below from Royal Opera House to learn some of the basics steps and techniques of classical ballet!