“Dance design is not simply one element; it is that without which ballet cannot exist. As aria is to opera, words to poetry, color to painting, so sequence in steps -- their syntax, idiom, vocabulary -- are the stuff of stage dancing.” --LINCOLN KIRSTEIN, Forward- Four Centuries of Ballet.
Ballet is based in the traditions of the past beginning in the royal courts of King Louis XIV. The qualities of grace, beauty and regality were instilled as foundations in the balletic tradition. From there, the stage was set to create an art form that revels in the power of the body to not only serve as means of conveying these elegant qualities but allowing the artist to communicate his or her beauty and artistry.
The tradition of Ballet has surpassed these early foundations into the creation of the pointe shoe along with high extensions, precision of movement, and turnout (outward rotation of the hip). Complicated movement patterns that depicted demanding steps and showed off leaps and turns were choreographed into the stories of the classical ballets. Tutus evolved into shorter forms as well in order to further show off and demonstrate the movements of the legs.
As Kirstein states, it is not simply one element that contributes to the creation of the balletic design and this design has and continues to evolve from its beginning. While the courts of King Louis emphasized the subtle beauty of regal movements, ballet dancers since that time must now work to add physicality and strength. They must join these traits to complete the movement patterns required of choreographic standards of the current dance world and to appear effortless in these moments of movement. The body then becomes a means of artistic expression, divulging the dancer’s soul.
With ballet further evolving into the future as an art form that showcases how powerful the body can be, the increase in the flexibility allows dancers to more fully connect with audiences both emotionally and physically. The artist is a sculpture who uses their body to transmit artistic expression.
Ballet dancers are accomplished athletes and artists who strive to push the standards of the past. An increase in the skill and athleticism of the ballet dancer allows the artist to more freely express themselves in the movement. Transforming the technical foundation that takes years of fine tuning into art is the beauty of the individual artist and of ballet itself.