The Humanities Through the Arts, Author: Lee A Jacobus & F. David Martin, Publisher: McGraw Hill.
- Edition: 11th Edition
The Corps de Ballet – Swan Lake
As we have learned through our study of Chapter 10, ballet has been with us as a formal dance form for hundreds of years. Beginning as interludes between acts of the opera, ballet was codified into its own art form and found its home at the Paris Opera house. From there, thousands upon thousands of dancers have studied, practiced and performed both classical and modern ballet repertoire to the delight of myriads of audiences throughout the world.
The American Ballet Theater is the United States’ premiere ballet company. Visit their website here: https://www.abt.org/the-company/about/#history (select and open as a new tab). Below you will find ABT’s 2015 video about their Production of Swan Lake (the ballet featured in our text). Watch the video and pay close attention to the interviews with the dancers and the clips of rehearsals and performances of the ballet.
To develop a greater understanding of this topic, here are some websites that you can explore:
- Online Ballet Dictionary, provided by the American Ballet Theater
- American Ballet Theater’s home page
- PBS Great Performances: Dance
- Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
Then, respond to the following prompts. Remember to number your responses accordingly (1, 2, 3, …):
1). After viewing the video, make observations about how the choreographer designed the corps de ballet to function within the overall ballet. They are not the principal dancers. Why is the corps de ballet considered to be the “backbone” of the ballet company?
2) From the interviews with the dancers, list three specific responsibilities a dancer could have as part of a dance company.
3) What Technical points of dance did the dancers identify that they need to be aware of as they rehearse and perform?
Read the material on page 256 of the text which covers the form (artistic form) of dance, and refer to your chapter notes.
4). After viewing the video, make observations about elements of the dance such as line, repetition, balance, counterpoint, and centrality of focus that you were able to observe.