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If you have never witnessed a professional ballet performance, you may not realize the tremendous strength and skill that these dancers develop during their years of rigorous training. Ballerinas (both male and female) are often noted for being some of the most highly developed athletes in the world. Their musculature is extreme because they use every part of their bodies during their performances.
Though it was a form of dancing that is first noted in the royal courts of Italy during the 1500s, it has evolved into a world-wide form a dance today. According to Dictionary.com, the word ballet itself is derived from the Italian "ballo" or dance.
The French courts took that term and turned it into "ballet". They are also noted for providing the most comprehensive "vocabulary" in the world of ballet, with many of the steps and styles being known strictly in their French forms. For example, "pas de jamb" and "plié" are two common movements, and also both terms that are from the French language.
There are a few styles of ballet being performed in the modern era, with Classical, Contemporary, and some neoclassical forms being staged every year. What is interesting about the evolution of ballet is that so many "troupes" or ballet companies formed and developed unique styles of their own.
For example, George Balanchine worked with Martha Graham (a unique modern dance choreographer) to create historic performances.
There are also geographic styles such as Russian and French ballet and methods that are related to the location of the ballet schools and companies. There are ballet companies on every continent in the world, and many modern nations have at least a single ballet company.
The largest and most famous companies will perform in their own theaters or during national and global tours. Names to watch for would include the Bolshoi Ballet, the Paris Opera Ballet, the American Ballet Theater, the National Ballet of Canada, the Royal Ballet (of England), and La Scala. Many of them do limited engagement tours around the world, and are worth even a lengthy journey to see in person.
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