Ballet requires grace, strength and years of backbreaking dedication. Do you have what it takes to plié your way through this HowStuffWorks quiz? Point your toes and give it a whirl!
The art of ballet began in Italy. The word "ballet" itself even comes from the Latin word "ballare," then the Italian word "balletto" and, finally, the French "ballet."
Female ballet dancers are referred to as ballerinas. While originally not regarded as highly as male dancers, they have become the stars of modern ballet.
Ballet was created during the Renaissance, in Italy. Italian Catherine de Medici introduced the dance to court life in France when she married King Henry II.
The Paris Opera Ballet is the oldest national ballet company in the world. It was founded in 1669 and is, to this day, one of the three most prestigious ballet companies on earth.
"Swan Lake" features the beautiful Odette, who has been cursed to turn into a swan by the evil Von Rothbart. Only the love of a virgin prince can break the curse in this classic Russian ballet.
Contemporary ballet can be influenced by numerous dance styles, but still uses ballet technique. It allows dancers and choreographers to experiment with ballet in new ways.
For nearly a hundred years in France, ballet was an expected component of opera. Nearly all opera performances included a ballet element to relieve tension.
Ballet terms are in French, as this where the early vocabulary and style of classic ballet began to evolve. Early ballet involved heavy masks and costumes and less movement, which is very different from the ballet of today.
Professional dancers were often hired to be part of the entertainment at court events, which was provided by the nobles. These parties and events grew in size and extravagance over the years.
By the mid-1800s, Russia was famous for its creative ballet. During the 1900s a world renowned group of Russian dancers and artists, called Ballet Russes, traveled the world, performing.
Pointe technique requires the dancer to bear all of their body weight on the tips of extended feet while wearing pointe shoes. The shoes make this technique possible.
The Royal Ballet is based in the Royal Opera House in London. The company was founded in 1931 and The Queen is its royal patron.
Ballet became popular in America in the 1930s. Several members of the Russian touring ballet group Ballet Russes settled in America to live and work. Ballet master of the Ballet Russes, George Balanchine, founded the New York City Ballet, which helped to establish its popularity in America.
Members of the court would perform early ballet, along with some some dancers. King Louis XIV was considered a great dancer.
It is common for older stories to be made into ballets. This ballet premiered in Czechoslovakia in 1938.
After ballet stopped being performed at the French court, Louis XIV began two ballet academies in France. These were the Académie Royale de Danse and the Académie Royale de Musique.
In the early years of ballet's rise to prominence in France, the most accomplished dancers were men. This changed in 1681, when Mlle La Fontaine appeared. Over time, she and other female dancers became as well known as male dancers.
This French impressionist artist, who lived from 1834-1917, was known for creating works that showcased dancers. Degas created paintings, sculptures, drawings and prints.
Ballet and opera were initially closely supported by and associated with the French court. This all changed after the French Revolution.
1830-1850 is often considered the golden age of ballet. This is when female dancers became more popular than male ones, largely because they were the ones doing pointe work.
Professional ballet dancers often begin training as young children, before the age of eight. If dancers train in pointe, it is not until they are a little older, because it can potentially harm their growing feet.
Male ballet dancers have been called "ballerinos" in the past. It referred to a specific position in a ballet company in Italy. This term is less common today.
The Bolshoi Ballet is a world renowned classical ballet company. The company, founded in 1776, is based in Moscow, Russia.
Italy, where ballet began, and Russia and France, where it flourished and evolved, all had distinct ballet styles by the 19th century. While ballet was popular in London, it was mostly performed by stars visiting from abroad in those days.
As the 19th century ended, the center of ballet moved to St. Petersburg, where it was revived. Some of the most famous ballets of all time were created during this time and set to Tchaikovsky scores. One of these is "Swan Lake."
"Cinderella" was Tchaikovsky's first attempt at scoring a ballet, but for unknown reasons he never finished. He wrote a letter to his brother in 1870, in which he mentioned the project.
After premiering in Moscow in 1945, this ballet became an instant classic. The music was composed by Sergei Prokofiev.
In 2015, Misty Copeland made history as the first African American principal dancer at the American Ballet Theatre. The company was founded in 1939.
Classical ballet makes use of the classical ballet technique. It is highly visual and involves famously difficult techniques, such as pointe work.
Romantic ballet was influenced by Romanticism, a movement in literature and art that swept Europe during the first half of the 19th century. Romantic art focuses on emotions, individualism, and nature.
The Russian court and czar supported ballet after it became less popular in Europe during the late 1800s. This is why many of the most famous ballets are Russian.
This famous ballet, based on a classic Christmas story, has a score written by Tchaikovsky. It premiered a week before Christmas, 1891 in St Petersburg.
The San Francisco Opera Ballet was the first professional ballet company in America. It was founded in 1933 to train dancers for extravagant opera performances.
Neoclassical ballet makes use of classical ballet technique, but focuses more on movement and visuals than on storytelling. Sometimes there are no costumes or backdrop.
"Macbeth" is among the most famous of Shakespeare's tragedies. It has yet to be turned into a ballet performed by a world-famous company, but in 2016 the Carolina Ballet presented a wordless ballet production.