What are the origins of the word ballet? Is it French or Italian?
The definition of ballet comes from the Italian. (Most answer French at first and that’s because ballet terminology is in French, most of us quickly assume the word ballet also comes from the French language!)
Actually the word ballet comes from balletto, meaning small dance in Italian.
Dr. Giannandrea Poesio, historian and dance critic, who writes for the Royal Opera House, explains:
Definition of Ballet
Ballet: from the Italian ‘balletto’, diminutive of ‘ballo’, or ‘dance’. The term, as synonymous with a ‘small dance spectacle’ became fashionable in the second half of the 16th century, with court entertainments such as the 1573 Ballet de Polonais (ballet of the Polish Ambassadors) a seminal predecessor of the more famous Ballet Comique de la Royne.
Complete text here.
Test your knowledge of ballet terminology. Did you know the origins and definition of ballet? The first time I was asked this question I answered French!
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Image source: http://www.gutenberg.org/files/10940/10940-h/images/fig398.png
Figure 138 in Paul Lacroix, aka Bibliophile Jacob (1874). Manners, Customs, and Dress During the Middle Ages and During the Renaissance Period, available freely at Project Gutenberg.
Curious about learning more on the history and origins of ballet, it’s technique, evolution of pointe shoes and more? Click here!