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Ballet is a form of dance that is accompanied by classical music. The movements of ballet are highly technical. Several classes and training hours are required before anyone can perform even the most basic steps. Ballet has its own unique steps - most of which are highly technical and require several excruciating practice before these are perfected. However, the harder part about ballet is in the performance. A ballet dancer may be able to execute each movement perfectly - yet a ballet performance is only considered excellent if this execution is partnered with grace and beauty. The ballet dancer must exude these, and not - never - the technical difficulty of the movements. The world's best ballet dancers can dance the hardest ballet steps and make it look like they're flitting about without care in a field of flowers. Yes, they are that graceful. And yes, ballet is meant to be that beautiful.

Brief history of ballet

Ballet came about from the Renaissance period, around the 15th century. It was meant to be an interpretation of fencing, set to dance and performed in the French Court. The dance form developed during the reign of Louis XIV. By 1850, ballet has reached and flourished in Russia and Denmark. Once it reached foreign shores, ballet had been transformed with different styles, often imbibing the culture of the home country. For instance, Russian ballet is said to be showy and forceful. American ballet, on the other hand, is fast-paced and lively.

Types of ballet

Ballet flourished in the different countries it reached. The dance form developed, infusing several unique characteristics from the home country. Here are the different types of ballet that was brought about because of this.

1. Classical ballet -- This type of ballet sticks to the traditional techniques of teaching, execution and performance.

2. Neoclassical ballet -- While this ballet form retains some of the movements and vocabulary of classical ballet, it is less strict than its counterpart. At the same time, the beats are often faster and the feats are more technical. However, even with the more varied movements of this ballet form, there is a certain adherent focus on structure. Neoclassical ballet is rigid in terms of structure.

3. Contemporary ballet -- Contemporary ballet is a heady mix of classical and modern. It takes a lot from classical ballet, while infusing the movements and choreography with modern dance. Here, dancers do not limit themselves with rigid body lines. Likewise, they do not need to keep to some of ballet's strict techniques. Many of the styles and innovations of contemporary ballet came from the 20th century, wherein there was relatively more diversity in floor work and leg movements.

While there are other styles of ballet, these mostly toggle in between these three main forms.

Ballet Articles

Inspired by movement

This jewellery has balletic form, writes Glynis Traill-Nash

In short

THE REPUBLIC OF LEARNING Glyn Davis ABC Books, 127pp, $24.99 BALLETS RUSSES STYLE Mary E. Davis Reaktion Books, 256pp, $44.95 WILLIAM DOBELL Elizabeth Donaldson Exisle Publishing, 208pp, $49.99 EVOLVING ENGLISH David Crystal British Library, 158pp, $36.95

Bags and ballet

Call it Black Swan fever but our attention is on slouchy bags and ballet flats. They are both staples, so go forth and shop.

Seven Dancing Boys, One Cat And 14 Carers

IF THE boys who play ballet prodigy Billy Elliot or his cross-dressing friend Michael ever get up to mischief off stage - one too many pirouettes down the corridor perhaps - their punishment is to do the laundry and pair up the socks.

Barre Helps Dunn Get To The Pointe

Rigorous Pilates and strengthening each layer of muscles from the inside out helped a ballerina get in shape after giving birth five months ago, writes Elissa Blake. Her waist-length dark hair, soft, glittering make-up and tiny, compact body make Australian Ballet star Lucinda Dunn look more like the more