The strength of ballet lies in its narrative of centuries of unbroken artistic development, which began in European courts in the 16th century. However, a closer look at the history of ballet reveals very different ways the art form has understood its content and purpose as part of a wider cultural and historical transformation. The texts in this section explore both the diverse history of ballet and its influence on art dance more broadly.

Hanna Järvinen: A Cultural History of Ballet – Five Centuries of a European Art Form

  • From a Court Dance to an Art
  • From Baroque Theatre Space to Horseshoe Theatres
  • Dance as Writing
  • Sallé, Garrick, Noverre and the Stage as a Picture
  • The Romantic Age – From Action Ballet to Sensual Impressions
  • Mime vs Dance
  • The Second Half of the Nineteenth Century – Towards an Increasingly Spectacular Spectacle
  • The ‘Old’ and the ‘New’ Ballet in Russia
  • The Russian Ballet of Diaghilev (and a Few Others)
  • Avant-garde and Neoclassicism – Ballet as Manifestation of Music
  • The Many Styles of the Twentieth Century
  • Contemporary Ballet
  • Ballet class
  • Conclusion

Mikael Aaltonen: William Forsythe’s Postdramatic Ballet and Choreographic Installations

  • From Balanchine towards Postdramatic Theatre
  • Installation, Choreographic Object and Social Choreography

Hanna Järvinen: Orientalism in Ballet

  • Critiques of Orientalism and Whitewashing History

Jukka O. Miettinen: The Long History of Orientalism

  • World Exhibitions and Dance
  • The Golden Age of Orientalist Dance

Hanna Järvinen: The Rite of Spring