Gender Roles in Romantic Ballet

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The female role in the Romantic Ballet took a huge tole in performances, while the males became more of an assistance to them as they gave the illusion of effortless and weightless movements that involved two people. The females became the dominate gender as everything became more feminine with the tutus and the stories behind the art of ballet. The stories behind the ballets in the Romantic Ballet period were dramatic love stories that involved mystical creatures such as fairies and demons. The choreography made to tell such stories was created to catch the audience's attention by the movements and facial expressions made by the performers.
With that said, in this research paper, I will discuss and review the information I contributed to my group's presentation, as well as some topics I found interesting. And above all, I will talk about what I learned from the past centuries to now regarding the evolvement of gender roles in ballet.

Furthermore, the topics I did research on were famous choreographers and how the 18th century defined gender roles in Romantic Ballet in the 18th century. The three famous Romantic Ballet choreographers were; Filippo Taglioni, Jules-Joseph Perrot, and Charles-Victor-Artur Michel, due to being famous for their incredible work and introducing new techniques that are still used today. Born on November 5, 1777, and died February 11, 1871, Fillipo Taglioni was an essential part of the ballet in that century for his prestigious work being La Sylphide in 1832. La Sylphide, a tragic two-act love story that became known as the ideal of Romantic Ballet. Filippo had designed his work as a showcase for his daughter Marie Taglioni, as she showed off her excellent pointe work. From that, her career took off as she became one of the first to develop useful tips and points of the toe that are still used today; for instance in my high school dance class. In 1972, another version of Taglioni’s La Sylphide was created by August Bournonville. It was performed by Lucile Grahn and Bournonville and continues to be one of August Bournonville’s most celebrated works.

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In the same way, Jules-Joseph Perrot, born on August 18, 1810, has also created essential impacts through the Romantic Ballet which began for him in 1841. Having started the studied of dance at the age of nine years old, his first debut in Paris was at the age of seventeen. From then his career escalated as he was given the opportunity to perform on stage at the Paris Opera. However, in 1831, his unique choreography techniques in Charles Didelot Flore Et Zephyr has acknowledged him for becoming one of the stars of the theater, and for attending Her Majesty’s Theater in London and La Scala in Milan. Not only but also with the help of Jean Coralli, they both created the ballet Giselle, which became known for the centerpiece of Russian Classical Ballet, as it continues to be the repertoire of the Marinsky Theater. He then created a sequence of important new works, one being Armida (1855) for Cerrito and all for Grisis which were; The Naida and the fisherman (1851), The War of the Woman (1852) and Griselda (1853).

Lastly, Charles-Victor-Arthur Michel, also known as Arthur Saint-Leon, was born on September 17, 1821, and dies September 2, 1870, in Paris France. His impacts began with his first major production as a dancer in 1838-1839 in Brussels. In the second half of the 19th century, Leon’s ballet was considered to be the new ballet art due to his ability to pick dancers to reveal an artist’s true identity. His creative side became more appreciated as he was given the position of ballet master of the Imperial Russian Ballet in 1859. From then on he produced a couple of prosperous series, making The Little Humpbacked Horse (1870), his most famous one. He then created improvements for the Paris Opera with two ballets that established a new composer to ballet, Leo Delibes. Delibes produced La Source (1866) and Coppella (1870), which is still considered a classic favorite.

What I found most interesting is how little recognition the male dancers received during this time, regardless of their exquisite performances. The roles of the male was to lift and support the female during challenging with effortless movements. For instance, Jules-Joseph Perrot was often seen performing with Marie Taglioni but their friendship was short. Marie viewed Perrot as competition as he received more and more recognition for his work. Soon after she refused to perform with him due to her fear that he would outside her, and so he left the Opera in 1835 and continued with his career to tour European dance centers.

In spite of the gender stereotypes of the common roles of ballet dancers, the athleticism of ballet is illustrated in women and men. It has created power in which women didn’t always recieve and developed a spotlight for men to be much more than an assistant for the ballerina. As people participate in widespread social and cultural structures that have been learned about in ballet, these structures have been seen to be both institutional and ideological. From my personal experience when dancing to a couple of ballet styled dances, it has helped me learn the movements that gruntled by identification as well as how I view myself. Male ballet dancers are equally as important if not more recognized and appreciated for their particular roles which may require feminine characteristics. In the same way, it is inspiring to see a female ballet dancer to embody a strong masculine role. All in all, Romantic Ballet was created to show ethereal and emotional movements that can be done by any gender if required.

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