Dance

3 Ballet en Action (ballet d’action), Classical Ballet

In his romantic ballets d’action (such as Alceste, 1767), Jean Georges Noverre declared ballet a self-reliant rhythmically plastic genre.[7] In his Lettres sur la danse et sur les ballets, he says, It is the movements and turns of the music that must accompany the movements and turns of the dancer. Although dance, due to the imitation of its sounds, virtually echoes music, the music has to obey the needs of its dramatic plot.[8] Noverre rejected dancing to existing music.[9] Dance and music serve the aim of enabling immediate emotional empathy with the plot.[10] In the eighteenth century, the demonstration of dance virtuosity came into the foreground. In music discourse, theater music is neglected as an impure, dependent form.[11] In historical composition representations of the nineteenth century, ballet hardly plays a role any longer. So-called program music made it possible for composers to explore a narrative model independently in symphonic poems or program symphonies.[12] At the same time, a new view of music as an intellectual activity shifted it, particularly in German-speaking regions, toward philosophy, which only aggravated skepticism about its corporeal interpretation and every form of functionality.[13]

Classical ballet in the late nineteenth century is exemplified by the collaboration between Marius Petipa and Pyotr Tchaikovsky, for instance in Swan Lake (1895). For premieres such as Sleeping Beauty (1890), Petipa specified tempi and character of the music, indicating types and even the number of beats. The piece was developed in a close exchange between the choreographer and the composer.[14] What remained determinant for the connection between the visual choreographic level and the musical level were the formal technical specifications of the dance.

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