the Ballet
the History

The Greeks and Romans

Dance came to Greece about 1400 B.C. from civilizations in Crete, which probably were influenced by the Egyptians.4 Although the Greeks did not contribute to the technique of dance very much, what they did do is contribute to the vocabulary of the theatre, notably the koros, (chorus), orkestra, (the round dance floor where the chorus danced), the skene, (the covered area behind the orkestra), and the proskenion which was the raised platform between the orkestra and the skene.5 This theatre layout and vocabulary formed the basis for the construction of the proscenium theatre, where ballet took form.

The Greeks also spoke of dancing in their mythology. For example, in the Ajax of Sophocles the great god Pan is spoken of as a dancing master, and Phoebus is addressed by Pindar as "the Prince of Dancers." Even Zeus has been represented "moving gracefully amid the dancing throng."6

The Romans treated dance in much the same way as the Greeks - it was an activity for everyone until the more "decadent days" of the empire when some individuals with high social status ceased to actively participate in the dances and became some of the first audiences.

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