King Louis XIV: Femininity In Ballet

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Though ballet wasn’t originally intended for women, it was inevitable that the female race would rise above and eventually dominate this powerful yet delicate art. Femininity in ballet developed considerably after the reign of men in this art form during the 15th and 16th centuries, when men in mask and costume portrayed women in productions, and King Louis XIV’s elaborate productions starring himself in the 17th century. The Romantic Era ushered in a real exploration into the roles of gender, and ballets became a woman’s forte, full of love, sexuality, and femininity. During the early days of dance in ancient times of primitive civilizations such as the Aztecs and Maya, gender roles were not important to society. Dance was for times of celebration, …show more content…

It was in 1681 that King Louis XIV finally allowed women to perform in his theatre, the Palais Royale in Paris, though their heavier wardrobe limited their movement range and technique as compared to men performing in those days. While the men of the late Renaissance became obsessed with correct teaching of dance and being the one in charge, “women began to assume the roles of stars- glamorous brilliant dancers who won the acclaim of growing audiences” (History, 76). These talented women included Marie Anne de Camargo, Marie Salle, and Francoise Prevost. This was the rise of the ballerina, and these women originated many roles such as the lead in Pygmalion and The Love of Mars and Venus, and also became famous among the aristocracy and wealthy bourgeois, who showered the starlets with jewels and large sums of money. Marie Anne de Camargo though, is known to be the most reputable and outstanding dancer of the 18th century. She rivaled with the great men dancers of the day, and with her extremely strong technique became the firsts woman to perform and entrechat quatre and a saut de basque, which were considered men’s steps at the time. She was the first woman with enough courage to change the traditional ballet costume by making the skirt shorter and lighter in order to free her legs’ range of motion, taking away the headdress as to not be weighed down, and wearing soft slippers that were the predecessors of ballet slippers

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