Music and dance, both purely natural
arts, have gone hand in hand since the beginning of history. As
early as prehistoric times, people danced to the sound of music, played
or sung by their fellow men. In African tribes, one can see how music and
dance serve different social and ritual needs, from evoking rain, to banishing
demons and disease, war dances and holiday and wedding ceremonies.
On stage, the ancient Greeks were the first to institutionalise
the link between music and dance, and created a true combination of music
and ballet for purposes of the performance. Christianity, however, discarded
dance, because it was viewed as a pagan relic.
the era of Renaissance,
as part of the general aspiration to revive the art of the ancient world,
plays, integrating dance, singing and dancing, were reintroduced, and these
plays were named "ballets".
Ballet was dance's artistic side, whereas folk dances
continued to develop, and it was during that period when the suite
emerged, which later became an important musical form, one of the
great influences on the music of the next centuries.
Ballet swept Europe, and its centre gradually moved from
Italy to France, where it was combined with theatre, mime art, mask-performances
and more. It became prestigious, and huge amounts of money were invested
in it. French ballet became an art with rules and customary methodology,
with no improvisation, and was based on scientific rules.
wrote a lot of music for ballets and presented women on stage for
the first time (until then such performance acts were considered "unchaste").
In the generation that succeeded Lully, Rameau
was the most important figure in ballet music, and he was the one
who matched ballet with opera,
as entertainment in the course of the story.
freed the ballet from the heavy outfits, and the "ballerina"
started claiming her place as the star of the ballet. Hovering, light,
dreamy figures - such were the ballerinas of the romanticism. The ballet
began its liberation from serving other arts and by the middle of the 19th
century, it would become an independent art-form. Russia
would then become the leading nation in the field, with composers such
who wrote the music for the ballets "The Sleeping
Beauty", "Swan Lake"
and "Romeo and Juliet". In France,
at the same time, the audience demanded that the ballet be combined with
Opera always, and French composers spiced their operas with dances. Thus,
for instance, Offenbach
included dances from the clubs of Paris in his operettas (for example,
the famous "Kane-Kane" dance featured by a gallop
in "Orpheus"). Chopin's
"Sylaphides" ballet is one of the
most magical of his time (these are arranged themes from his waltzes, such
as the waltz in C#m).
wrote the well known "Bolero"
for a ballet requisitioned by Ida Rubinstein.
The beginning of the 20th century
shifts the center of activity to Russia, and
especially to one important name in 20th century ballet - Sergey
Diaghilev, who requisitioned music from the greatest Russian composers
for his ballets. Stravinsky
wrote some of his most important works for Diagilev - "Firebird",
"Petrushka" and "The
Rite of Spring"
- among the most influential pieces in the 20th century. Composers like
("Daphnis et Chloé")
and de Falla
("The three-cornered hat") also
wrote, by his request, wonderful ballet music.
In his will, Stravinsky asked to be burried next to Diaghilev,
and that is proof of the friendship between the two of the most important,
fascinating men of the century. Armenian composer Khachatorian
introduced his own exotic elements into his ballets, among which are "Gian"
In the second half of the 20th century, ballet turned
to fascinating new directions, and integrated electronic