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Theatre and Dance

Research Presentation Video

Watch Cassandra Owen '14 discuss her research project.

Evolution of Shapes and Artistry in Ballet: Case Studies through the 20th and 21st Centuries

Cassandra Owen (2014); Mentor(s): Ronnie Brosterman; Laurie Cameron

Abstract: Ballet is rooted in a fading aristocracy and idolization of the female ballerina, yet with diminishing class and gender distinction, ballet is proving itself plastic as an art form. Choreography has left behind its classical grandiosity to become more earthbound, attempting to speak more directly to the masses. Looking at the shapes of balletic bodies made at moments in time, we see an evolution from those long, straight lines made by limbs reaching far from the body, to modern shapes that bend the rules -and the torso ¬further and further, with the rate of innovation accelerating through history. This is evidenced by a compilation of images of dancers from classical and contemporary pieces of the 20th and 21st centuries, the body shape simplified into lines that prove to be firmly balletic. With these visual comparisons, it becomes clear that today there is a different meaning of what it means to be a virtuosic dancer with the same obligatory elegance, grace, and strength that was striven for generations ago, and that ballet is as alive as ever.
Funding Provided by: National Endowment for the Humanities