While we, the audience, sit and watch the ballet dancers dancing elegantly on the stage, it sure looks extremely simple and easy. Those different positions, turns and leaps, steps of standing on toes, and varied leg movements. It just looks easy. The truth is, ballet dancing is one of the hardest dance forms.
If you read the biography of some of the most famous ballet dancers, you will find majority of them started practicing the art at ages as early as nine or ten. The rule of thumb here is, with years of practice and hard work only, one can be a master in ballet dancing.
This art form originated in ancient times and its history can be traced back to the 15th century, when it was performed for the first time in Italy. After that, there was no looking back as it spread to many other countries and become a popular dance form. Famous dancers and contributors are remembered and honored even today for their wonderful performances. Let's take a look at some of them.
Erik Bruhn (1928-1986): Erik Bruhn, a Danish ballet dancer, was born on October 3, 1928, in Copenhagen, Denmark. He joined the Royal Danish Ballet at the age of nine years and started practicing ballet. In his early career, he worked with the same Danish company and the Metropolitan Ballet in England. In 1949, he achieved the post of a soloist, the highest level in Danish ballet. In the same year, he joined the Ballet Theater in New York. His delivered a path-breaking performance by portraying the role of Albrecht in Giselle, in which he paired with Dame Alicia Markova. Some of his works include La Sylphide, Romeo and Juliet, and Swan Lake. Other than a famous ballet performer, Erik Bruhn was also a well-known actor, author, choreographer, and company director.
Frederick Ashton (1904-1988): Frederick Ashton, a famous ballet choreographer and dancer, was born in Ecuador, South America. He was determined to become a ballet dancer after having witnessed the performance of the legendary dancer, Anna Pavlova. In 1919, he attended the Dover College, in England. He became a successful choreographer as soon as he delivered his first ballet, 'The Tragedy of Fashion', in 1926. His other famous works include The Tragedy of Fashion, A Wedding Bouquet, Dante Sonata, Symphonic Variations, Cinderella, Sylvia and Ondine. He was the founder choreographer of the Royal Ballet in London. In 1959, the Royal Academy of Dance awarded him the Coronation award. He also received a Gold Medal in 1972, from the Carina Aria Foundation, Sweden.
Rudolf Nureyev (1938-1993): Rudolf Nureyev, a Russian ballet dancer, derived his inspiration after watching the 'Song of the Cranes'. Though he started learning ballet at an early age, he officially joined the Leningrad State Choreographic Institute at the age of 17. Within a few years, he became a soloist and performed in more than 15 ballet dances. His famous performances include the Sleeping Beauty, Marguerite and Armand, La Bayadère, and many others. He was the first ballet dancer to perform both classical ballet and modern dance at the same time.
Mikhail Baryshnikov (1948): Mikhail Baryshnikov, a Russian actor and dancer, is one of the most famous ballet dancers. Motivated by his mother, he started practicing ballet at the age of 15, in 1960. He joined the Leningrad's Kirov Ballet in 1966 and owing to his graceful dance style, was immediately assigned a soloist position. He became a member of the National Ballet of Canada and later joined the American Ballet Theater (ABT). Meanwhile, he also learned the George Balanchine's style of movement at the New York City Ballet. He returned to AMT as an artistic director and worked on the White Oak Project. Mikhail Baryshnikov' most notable performance was in 'The Nutcracker'. In 2000. He was rewarded by the Kennedy Center Honors. By 2004, he started his own ballet organization which goes by the name Baryshnikov Arts Center.
Even the modern-day ballet is a contribution of the legendary ballet dancers (male dancers) and ballerinas (female dancers). Nowadays, there are many schools that provide academic programs for learning ballet dance. If you are interested in dancing and have a passion for ballet, then you can make a career in ballet dancing. You can enroll in a good university program, which can help you in getting through dance companies.