Dance History


The Enlightenment

1700 - 1800

The story ballet!

French Revolution

1789 - 1799

Corps de Ballet: Inspired by Marie Antoinette
The Waltz: People began to dance as couples
Decline of the male dancer


1800 - 1850

Literary, artistic, and philosophical movement that was always searching for the unattainable.
In dance: emotion over story.


Catherine de Medici - Patron of the arts


Brings Italian dance to Paris court.

Ballet Comique de la Reine


First court dance that was truly a ballet, becoming the formula of court dance

Louis XIV stars as Apollo in Le Ballet de la Nuit


Luois XIV establishes the Royal Academy of Dance


Peter the Great

1672 - 1725

He wanted to "westernize" Russia. As a result, he built St. Petersburg as a European city. Ballet was established as etiquette, not art.

John Weaver

1673 - 1760

Reformed ballet as etiquette in England

Beauchamps established the five dance positions


Fuillet published the first dance notation system


Marie Salle

1707 - 1756

The first woman to dance the noble style, making ballet feminine with emotion and sensuality.
She used pantomime in ballet as an actress.

Marie Camargo

1710 - 1770

A bold technician who shortened her skirts so the world could see "the prettiest feet in the world".
She was bold and brazen, a life filled with controversy.

Noverre - Ballet d action

1727 - 1810

The French "master of the story ballet".
Ballet d action: first time ballet stood alone from Opera!
Used pantomime to tell a narrative story.

August Vestris

1760 - 1842

Technique over artistry:
He established the ballet barre and a strong training regimen, leading to the decline of the male dancer.


1767 - 1837

He was the first French trained master appointed to direct the Imperial Ballet (1801-1837). He aimed to create and produce Russian stars.

Marie Taglioni

1804 - 1884

She is credited with revolutionizing pointe work.
A "pure" dancer of the noble style.
She was trained by her father, Filipo Taglioni, who created La Sylphide (1832) for her.

Marius Petipa

1818 - 1910

French Ballet Master of the Maryinsky Ballet.
He collaborated with Tchaikovsky's music.
The Pharaoh's Daughter - "Kingdom of the Shades" (1862): first success
The Sleeping Beauty (1890): the first truly Russian Ballet
Swan Lake (1895), La Bayadere, Don Quixote, Raymanda, Paquita, Le Corsaire

-Glorification of female roles
-Divertissement (National Dances)
-4 act ballets
-Grand Pas de Duex
-An amalgamation of pantomime, comic dance, court scene, and character dance

La Sylphide


Choreographed by Filipo Taglioni, starring Marie Taglioni.

Lev Ivanov

1834 - 1901

The first Russian Ballet Master (under Petipa), the product of the Maryinsky School.
Took over choreo for The Nutcracker (1892) when Petipa became ill.
Choreographed Act II and Act IV of Swan Lake (1895). (Petipa choreographed Act I and Act III).

The Black Crook


The First Musical in Dance History!

Serge Diaghilev

1872 - 1929

He was a Russian born patron of the arts, starting his artistic endeavors by producing art shows in Russia and Europe. He later went on to create the Ballet Russe (a Russian touring ballet company that never performed in Russia), bringing ballet as a respected art form to the West. He was known for gathering many collaborators together to create the ballets.

Isadora Duncan - The First Modern Dancer

May 27, 1877 - September 14, 1927

Growing up very poor, she started teaching dance at 6 years ald in order to make some extra cash.

She started dancing professionally in 1900 in Europe, starting in London's Lyceum Theatre. In her early professional years, she was inspired by Greek vase.

She toured with Loie Fuller across Europe, starting in 1902, studying natural movement, opposed to ballet's strict technique.

Her mission was to create beauty and educate the youth. As a result, she opened schools to teach women her dance philosophy. The first was established in 1904 in Grunewald, Germany. In 1914, she moved her school to New York.

She believed in restoring dance to a high art form, rather than merely entertainment, seeking the connection between emotion and movement.

She believed that all movement originated from the solar plexus (the sternum).

Bojangles Robinson

May 25, 1878 - November 25, 1949

Responsible for developing tap in the dance world.

1935 - He became popular after his stair dance with Shirley Temple in "The Little Colonel".

Georg M Cohan

July 3, 1878 - November 5, 1942

A versatile song and dance man who started in vaudeville, responsible for helping to develop and propel musical theater


1880 - 1942

A Russian choreographer, who choreographed internationally for the Ballet Russe. He is known for his curved formations and use of the ensemble. He established 1 act ballets, which became standard in the West.

La Vigne (1906): first professional choreographed work
Eunice (1907): based on Egyptian poses
Le Pavillion d' Amide: his first ballet commissioned by the Maryinsky
Egyptian Nights: an orgy ballet
The Swan (1907): a famous solo for Pavlova
The Dying Swan: a symbol of New Russian Ballet
Les Sylphides (1909)

He becomes the choreographer for the Ballet Russe in 1909.

He is responsible for the majority of ballet before WWI (1909-14)
Prince Igor
Firebird (1910)
Scheherazade (1910): Ballet Russe's most popular ballet
Spectre de la Rose (1911): (starring Tamara Karsavina)
Petrouchka (1911): (in which the Russian soul is dissected)

Mary Wigman-Ausdracktanz movement

November 13, 1886 - September 18, 1973

Mary Wigman is considered one of the founders and pioneers of the Ausdracktanz movement, which was a Expressionist dance movement in Germany that focuses on emotion and intention over actual movements.

Her most famous piece was the Witch Dance.

Vaslav Nijinsky

1890 - 1950

A Russian born dancer and choreographer for the Ballet Russe.

Afternoon of the Faun (1912)
Jeux (1913): the first ballet to express a contemporary theme
Le Sacre du Printemps (1913)
Till Eulenspiegel (1916)

He is credited to paving the way for Modern dance.

(He had a falling out with Diagheliv, and alleged lover and founder of the Ballet Russe, after maring a Hungarian woman while on tour. He left the dance world, spending the rest of his days mentally unstable.)

Serpentine Dance


Loie Fuller, a founder of modern dance, choreographed this famous solo in 1981. Her medium in dance was color (and the use of fabric).

Leonide Massine

1896 - 1979

A Russian born dancer and choreographed, he was Diaghilev's Ballet Russe's first star male dancer, taking over as choreographer after Nijinsky's departure. He incorporated formal mime, gesture, acrobatics, and films into his pieces. He is best known for his piece Parade (1917).

He later when on to choreograph for the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo.

George Balanchine

January 22, 1904 - April 30, 1983

He is one of the greatest and most famous choreographers of the 20th century, developing ballet in the Unites States. He is the co-founder of the New York City Ballet along with Kirstein.

Balanchine uses the corps de ballet to narrate the story in his ballets.

Diaghilev's Ballet Russes:
Apollo (1928)
The Prodigal Son (1929)

Serenade (1935): His first and most famous piece in America

American Ballet Caravan:
Ballet Imperial (1941)
Concerto Barocco (1941)

Ballet Theatre:
Theme and Variations (1947)

For Ballet Society:
The Four Temperaments (1946)
Orpheus (1948)

New York City Ballet:
The Firebird (1949)
Swan Lake (after Lev Ivanov - 1951)
La Valse (1951)
The Nutcracker (1954)
Agon (1957)
A Midsummer Night's Dream (1962)
Jewels (1967)
Coppelia (1974)

He also choreographed on Broadway and for Hollywood.
On Your Toes - "Slaughter on Tenth Avenue" (1936)
Cabin the Sky (1940): He directed and choreographed this musical

His choreography and technically trained dancers propelled musical theater through the 1940s.

Salome - Maud Allen


Choreographed by Canadian modern "barefoot dancer" in

Ziegfeld Follies

1907 - 1931

Extravagant shows on Broadway that presented beautiful chorus girls, exquisite sets and costumes, and star singers.

Ziegefeld was the first producer to use African American performers and produce black musicals.

The Dying Swan


Starring Anna Pavlova, choreographed by Michael Fokine.

Les Sylphides


Choreographed by Fokine for the Ballet Russe, inspired by Anna Pavlova.

The Rite of Spring


Choreographed by Vaslav Nijinsky for the Ballet Russe to Igor Stravinsky's music. It is the story of a religious virgin sacrifice. It was so controversial that its audience in Paris erupted into mobs. It only lasted eight performers, bu was extremely influential, leading the way to introducing and establishing modern dance.

Denishawn Company


"Barefoot dancer" Ruth St. Denis along with her husband Ted Shawn formed the Denishwan Dance Company in Los Angeles, California.

St. Denis was inspired to start dancing by a cigarette poster of Iris. She and her husband were interested in incorporation orientalism into their art.

Show Boat


The first book show ever, by Hammerstein and Kern, produced by Ziegfeld.



Rudolf Laban established Labanotation, a notation system that categorizes all movement into 4 characterizations and eight actions:

Time, Space, Weight, Flow

Dab, Flick, Punch, Slash, Glide, Float, Press, Wring

Lamentations - Martha Graham


Lamentations is Graham's most famous solo, choreographed in 1930.

Jacob's Pillow


Jacob's Pillow was formed by Ted Shawn and Ruth St. Denis in 1931.

Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo


They open it's first season in 1932 with George Balanchine as the head ballet master.

The Green Table


It is Kurt Joos' most famous work, a time-less piece that displays the destructiveness of war.

Radio City Christmas Spectacular


It was originally conceived by Radio City's stage producer Leon Leonidoff and designer Vincente Minnelli. It has been directed and choreographed by Linda Haberman since 2007, in celebration of its 75th year anniversary.

Flying Down to Rio


Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers dance together for the first time in this film.

School of American Ballet is founded


Founded by Balanchine and Kirstein. Balanchine wanted to establish a school first, so he would then have dancers to pull from to form a company.

ABT is founded


Ballet Theater (named American Ballet Theater in 1957) was founded by Lucia Chase and Richard Pleasant. Their goal was to create a versatile ensemble, capable of reviving classics from the past as well as performing new works by a variety of choreographers. The early ABT was a democratic, functioning much like a symphony orchestra.

Tudor's Pillar of Fire (1942)
Robbin's Fancy Free (1944)
De Mille's Fall River Legend (1948)



Choreographed by Agnes de Mille.



A Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, adapted from Lynn Rigg's play Green Grow the Lilacs, OKLAHOMA was choreographed by Agnes de Mille.

Her choreography was inspired by her ballet Rodeo, which she choreographed two years prior.

Her dream ballet was the first to further plot, resulting in influencing the integration of dance into musicals.

OKLAHOMA marked the beginning of the Golden Years in musical theater.

Fancy Free


Choreographed by Jerome Robbins, it develops into Bernstein's Broadway musical On the Town.

Appalachian Springs


Choreographed by Martha Graham.

Symphonic Variations


Choreographed by Frederick Ashton.

Jose Limon Dance Company


Post-modernist Jose Limon created his company in 1946, appointing Doris Humphrey as the artistic director. He established a style that is known as the Limon technique, which experiments with fall and recovery.

The Red Shoes


A film choreographed by Robert Helpmann, starring Moira Shearer.

Kiss Me Kate


Choreographed by Modern founder, Hanya Holm. The music and lyrics are by Cole Porter with the story based off of William Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew.

New York City Ballet is founded


NYCB was founded by George Balanchine and Lincoln Kirstein. Sol Hurok left Ballet Theater to fund NYCB. Balanchine was the major choreographer, followed by Jerome Robbins and later Peter Martins (who is still currently the artistic director).

"Diamonds..." - Jack Cole


Jack Cole choreographed the "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend" number from the film Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, starring Marilyn Monroe.

Merce Cunningham's company


Merce Cunningham formed 6 person company, consisting of himself along with Paul Taylor, slkfnskfnlks at Black Mountain College in North Carolina

The Royal Ballet


The Sadler's Wells Ballet is renamed the Royal Ballet.

Paul Taylor's Concert of 1957


This concert was aan important date in Paul Taylor's career. It was the presentation of his 8 month study of daily activities and stripping away dance habits.

He explored the concept of stillness and dealt with the question "What is dance?" in this concert.

It created a lot of controversy. For example, his piece Duet, consisted of him and his partner on stage completely still for 4 min. The audiences were enraged.

West Side Story


A musical by Bernstein and Sonheim, Jerome Robbins conceived and choreographed this musical. It is inspired by Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet.

The Art of Making Dances - Humphrey


Modern founder, Doris Humphrey publishes the Art of Making Dances in 1958. It is one of the most important books on choreography.

Revelations - Alvin Ailey


Revelations, Alvin Ailey's masterpiece, was first produced on January 31, 1960.

Judson Church Group


The Judson Church Group was founded in 1962 by Steve Paxton, Fred Herko, David Gordon, Alex and Deborah Hay, Yvoone Rainer, Elaine Summers, William Davis, and Ruth Emerson. It was founded to promote freedom in expression and experimentalism, an opportunity to break fro the codification of Graham, Humphrey, and Horton's technique.

Joffrey Ballet


Robert Joffrey founds a company that becomes known as the Joffrey Ballet in 1977.

Duce Coupe


American post-modernist Twyla Tharp choreographs a dance concert to songs by the Beach Boys.

Fosse - The Triple Crown


In 1973 Bob Fosse won the Tony Award for Pippin and Sweet Charity, the Academy Award for Cabaret, and the Emmy Award for Liza with a "Z", all for directing.

A Chorus Line


Conceived, directed, and choreographed by Michael Bennet.

Chicago - Fosse


Bob Fosse directed and choreographed the musical Chicago in 1972.



By British Andrew Lloyd Webber, choreographed by Gilian Lynne.

It is the second longest show to run on Broadway.

Rudolf Nureyev-Paris Opera Ballet

1983 - 1989

Russian Rudolf Nureyev becomes the artistic director of the Paris Opera Ballet for 6 years.

He is known for being the first person to cut himself off from the Soviet Union.

Peter Martins-NYCB


Danish choreographer Peter Martins becomes director of the New York City Ballet. He wasn't the best choreographer, but he was fantastic at the business side.

Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake


British choreographer Matthew Bourne creates an all-male version of Swan Lake.

Pace University BFA Commercial Dance


The first BFA commercial dance program was established by Rhonda Miller with the help of Lauren Gaul at Pace University in 2012.

Natalie MacInnis - BFA Commercial Dance


Natalie MacInnis will be in the first university class to graduate with a BFA in Commercial Dance from Pace University, along with Madison Embrey, Richie Lucibello, Sarah Badham, Amanda Orozco, Lorena Phillips, and David O' Neill.