25 Gorgeous Vintage Photographs of Ballet Dancers From Between the 1910s and 1950s

Ballet originated in the Italian Renaissance courts of the 15th century. Noblemen and women were treated to lavish events, especially wedding celebrations, where dancing and music created an elaborate spectacle.

In the late 17th century Louis XIV founded the Académie Royale de Musique (the Paris Opera) within which emerged the first professional theatrical ballet company, the Paris Opera Ballet. The predominance of French in the vocabulary of ballet reflects this history. Theatrical ballet soon became an independent form of art, although still frequently maintaining a close association with opera, and spread from the heart of Europe to other nations.

In the 20th century styles of ballet continued to develop and strongly influence broader concert dance, for example, in the United States choreographer George Balanchine developed what is now known as neoclassical ballet, subsequent developments have included contemporary ballet and post-structural ballet, for example seen in the work of William Forsythe in Germany.

The etymology of the word “ballet” reflects its history. The word ballet comes from French and was borrowed into English around the 17th century. The French word in turn has its origins in Italian balletto, a diminutive of ballo (dance). Ballet ultimately traces back to Italian ballare, meaning “to dance”.

A scene from the film Melba, 1953.
Lubov Tchernicheva, Alice Nikitina, Alexandra Danilova, Felia Doubrovska, and Serge Lifar during a production of Apollon Musagetes, 1928.
Madame Lubovska teaching students from the National American Ballet School, 1924.
A performance in London, 1943.
A scene from the ballet Protee, 1938.
Dancers of the Festival Ballet performing Etudes, 1955.
Christianne Gaulthier, 1955.
Nora Kaye and Nicholas Magallanes in The Cage, 1951
Anna Pavlova and a fellow dancer, 1920.
Vera Nemchinova and Anton Dolin in a production of Revolution at the Coliseum in London, 1928.
Ida Rubinstein, 1915.
Anna Pavlova in Autumn Leaves, 1920.
Margot Fonteyn, 1939.
Alexandra Danilova, 1925.
Tanaquil Le Clercq in Bourree Fantasque, 1950.
Cynthia Maugham at the Arts Theatre in London, 1928.
Anna Ludmilla and a fellow dancer in Intimate Revue, 1930.
June Brae and Robert Helpmann in Dante Sonata at the Sadler’s Wells Theatre, London, 1939.
Anna Pavlova surrounded by her ballet shoes in her dressing room at the Theatre des Champs Elysees in Paris, 1927.
Alice Nikitina and Serge Lifar performing La Chatte, 1927.
Marjorie Tallchief and George Skibine of the New York City Ballet in Concerto Barocco, 1948.
Tamara Toumanova in Swan Lake, 1948.
A performance of Giselle at Drury Lane in London, 1937.
Anna Pavlova, 1920.
Vera Nemchinova and Anton Dolin in Rhapsody in Blue, 1928.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: