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January 29, 2014

Ballet and Pas De Death

I’ve been thinking about ballet recently, which is peculiar since I have never been a ballerina and know nothing about ballet. My one experience of ballet was when we lived in London. A customer of the pub where we worked gave us two tickets to attend the ballet at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden. It was a programme of short dances, and we enjoyed the show even though we didn’t understand a lot of what we were seeing. The thing I remember most was how noisy their shoes were since the sound of shoes scraping across the floor was easy to hear from our seats.


Pas De Death (The Dani Spevak Mystery Series)

A side note: I was looking for a ballet picture to illustrate my post and remembered fellow Romance Diva Amanda Brice has a mystery series featuring a ballet dancer. I thought I’d use the cover from her latest release and give her series a shout-out. The first book in her series is called Codename: Dancer. If your teenager is a reader and a ballet fan, you should definitely check out this series.

Now back to the reason for my post. One of our holiday stops in August will be at St. Petersburg in Russia. Since we have the opportunity to attend the ballet we’re grabbing it with both hands. After all, the Russians are very good at ballet. I believe we’ll be seeing Swan Lake.

I decided to do a little research about the history of ballet. Here are a few highlights:

1. Ballet seems to have originated in the Italian Renaissance courts during the 15th century.

2. The nobility learned the steps and danced in the performances.

3. King Louis XIV was responsible for making ballet even more popular and standardizing the dances. It’s said his passion took ballet from a hobby or interest for amateurs to entertainment carried out by professionals.

4. Until the 1730s ballet was performed mainly by men. They were able to wear tights while the women were restricted by long skirts.

5. No one is sure when pointe shoes were first used, but historians credit Marie Taglioni with dancing on pointe in the 19th century. She certainly developed the technique.

6. 18th century Marie Camargo was the first dancer to dance with shortened skirts. The audience could see her ankles and were scandalized, although they appreciated the skill of her footwork, which they could now see clearly. Tights were in common use during the late 18th century.

Sources: www.dancer.com and www.histclo.com

Are you a ballet fan? Did you learn ballet as a child? Please tell all.


  1. T.F. Walsh

    I really don’t know anything about ballet, except I love watching it. Great tidbits:)

    • Shelley Munro

      The dancers look so strong and graceful, don’t they? I think I’ll research Swan Lake before I go so I know the story. I have a vague idea but it might be good to understand what I’m watching.

  2. Maria Zannini

    I have two left feet. But I love to watch it. The artistry and athleticism can be jaw-dropping.

    • Shelley Munro

      LOL – me too, Maria. I’m not a natural dancer and sad to say, have no rhythm. They’d have to be crazy fit to get through all that leaping and lifting.

  3. Mary Kirkland

    Never took any type of dance as a child, I was too clumsy I think. I had no idea that their shoes would be noisy.

    • Shelley Munro

      That makes two of us, Mary. I didn’t either. I found this aspect fascinating.

  4. Heather

    What an awesome opportunity, and cool post. I’ve seen “The Nutcracker” a few times, and our HS group had the opportunity to attend a ballet at the old Opera when we were in Paris — we left before the third and final act to go to a disco. *G*

    Right now my youngest niece takes gymnastics and dance (ballet and tap), and I watched the recording of her last recital when I visited at Christmas.