Monday, March 2, 2009

Origin of Ballet

Origin of Ballet

The art of balle* appeared about 400 years ago. Ballet is considered a modern art, but the composing elements like dance and masks were used more than 2000 years ago.

It is unclear, because of lack of documentation, exactly why and what; happened when people lived in tribes, tribes people survived from hunting and collecting food. The first written evidence corned from the time of superior Paleolithic (stone age) or better said the beginning of Neolithic in which people thought to draw or carve pictures of their actions on stones or bones. Earnings were found on cave walls in which the people lived. Simple color pictures were discovered of animals and people.

Before people learned to build houses, they learned what rhythm is. The first steps' were probably made to the rhythm of beating stone or wood together. One example may be seen in a cave "Three Brother" in Ariege, France. This picture represents a man with the head of a bison, covered in horse skin, dancing and singing with an instrument shaped like a bow, and casting a spell on two herbivores.

Also in La Mege-Teyjat (Dordagne), France engravings were found on the antlers (horns) of a buck with three men dancing in masks.

In Cogul, Spain pictures of women dancing around a man were found on cave walls.

What can all this represent?
What does this mean to you?

Some historians believe all of this represents dance movements. In some pictures we see people with bent knees and pointed feet, which lead "us" to believe this was dance.

Also from the Neolithic period, a simple instrument (similar to a lithophone) was found in Ndut-lienq-krak, Vietnam. Even today similar instruments are used in some tribes and countries like; Gabon, Congo, South Africa, India and South America.

Historians believe dance and instruments to have been used in religious and magical rituals. It is very difficult to explain how rigorously dance evolved.

But, there is a folk legend from Coingung, Brazil that tells of Cuyurucre men on a hunting trip who could not see the sky through the thick forest. The men came to a meadow in the middle of the forest: in the center of the meadow was a big strong tree. Beside the tree, were some branches with leaves and one of the branches was stuck into a pumpkin. The men were astonished to see the branches moving in an upward and downward motion to the rhythm of wind. Poetry written by the German Curt Sachs (based on this legend) states that people of the Neolithic period felt dance was a force springing from their own bodies and nature.

Totem Poles: A totem pole was either a plant or an animal. People danced around a totem pole until they got the sensation of courage. (Even today people may whistle or tap their fingers when they are nervous or afraid.) People danced around a totem pole for things like a successful hunt, rain, fertility, and war.

In Indian mythology, dance was considered a cosmic force because even the god Siva created people dancing. They danced around an animal or an arrow in order gain courage for a hunt. This ritual/dance is evident in the tribe Wedda from Ceylon, Dance Description: A circle of men was formed around an arrow embedded in the earth and they moved with very simple movements in melodic rhythm, without looking at one another, the dancers would turn left while standing on the right leg and beating the left leg into the ground. The upper body bent backwards while turning half circles around themselves. The men would stop on the left leg and beat the ground with the right leg as they had previously done with the left.

A similar dance was executed much later in the court of king Alcinous in honor of Ulysses. (Reference: Odyssey, Homer 1929 ed. Today in South Africa, over 22 dances of this type are still performed/executed.

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