World Ballet Day
Other Scottish Country Dances for this Day
Today's Musings, History & Folklore
"Ballet is a dance executed by the human soul."
~ Alexander Pushkin
Neurologists attribute some of the pleasure of watching dancing to the connection to cells called mirror neurons, which cause your brain’s movement areas to activate both while dancing and while watching others dance! Unconsciously, you are planning and predicting how a dancer would move based on what you would do, so even if you can’t perform a pirouette or the applause-begetting series of fouettés, watching ballet is still mentally rewarding. However, if you put yourself in place of the male danseurs, you may feel a bit tired. It has been estimated that in a typical classical ballet, a male dancer lifts over 1-1/2 tons worth of ballerinas during performances!
Ballet Day celebrates the dance form that has influenced and been influenced by many styles of dance, including Scottish Dancing.
The balletic influence between Scottish Dancing and French court is still clearly seen in Highland and Country Dancing, Ladies' Step Dance, and other styles, and lives on in the names for many terms and figures, from the "pas de basque" to "tourbillon."
In the 16th century, Catherine de Medici, wife of King Henry II of France and a great patron of the arts, began to fund ballet in the French court. Her elaborate festivals encouraged the growth of ballet de cour, a program that included dance, decor, costume, song, music and poetry. A century later, King Louis XIV, the Sun King, helped to popularize and standardize the art form.
Prima ballerina assoluta is a title awarded to the most notable of female ballet dancers. To be recognised as such is traditionally reserved only for the most exceptional dancers of their generation. The title is seldom used today and recent uses have typically been symbolic, either in recognition of a prestigious international career, or for exceptional service to a particular ballet company. As of today, only 11 individuals have held this special designation, including Margot Fonteyn, from the UK.
For one of the most famous ballet sequences on film, from the 1948 film The Red Shoes, which includes the memorable special effect of ballet shoes magically tying up their own ribbons, click the picture of Scottish ballerina Moira Shearer, shown in the film preparing for her role in the ballet sequence.
The Red Shoes, based on the fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen, is a story about a young ballerina who joins an established ballet company and becomes the lead dancer in a new ballet called The Red Shoes. In the film, her desire to dance conflicts with her need for love, ultimately leading to her death.