From Quiz Revision Notes


The Afternoon of a Faun (French: L'Après-midi d'un faune) was choreographed by Vaslav Nijinsky for the Ballets Russes and first performed in Paris in 1912. Nijinsky danced the main part himself. As its score it used the Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune by Claude Debussy

Apollo is a ballet composed by Igor Stravinsky. It was choreographed in 1928 by George Balanchine, with the composer contributing the libretto. Apollo is visited by three muses: Terpsichore, Polyhymnia, and Calliope

La Bayadere (English: The Temple Dancer) was originally staged by Marius Petipa to the music of Ludwig Minkus. It tells the story of the bayadère Nikiya and the warrior Solor, who have sworn eternal fidelity to one another

Cinderella is a comic ballet re-choreographed by Frederick Ashton using Sergei Prokofiev's Cinderella music. First production wa in 1948, with Cinderella danced by Moira Shearer

Coppelia tells the tale of Swanilda, a village beauty who tries to thwart the fancy of her fiancé (Frantz) for a life-sized doll. Based upon two stories by ETA Hoffmann: Der Sandmann (The Sandman), and Die Puppe (The Doll). Includes Festive Dance and Waltz of the Hours. Music by Leo Delibes

Le Corsaire has a libretto loosely based on the poem The Corsair by Lord Byron. Originally choreographed by Joseph Mazilier to the music of Adolphe Adam, it was first presented in Paris in 1856. All modern productions of Le Corsaire are derived from the revivals staged by Marius Petipa

Don Quixote was originally choreographed by Marius Petipa to the music of Ludwig Minkus and first presented by the Ballet of the Imperial Bolshoi Theatre of Moscow in 1869. All modern productions of the ballet are derived from the version staged by Alexander Gorsky for the Bolshoi Theatre of Moscow in 1900

Facade is a ballet by Frederick Ashton, to the music of William Walton. First performed at the Cambridge Theatre in 1931

La Fille mal gardée (English: The Wayward Daughter, literal translation: "The Poorly Guarded Girl") is a comic ballet inspired by a painting by Pierre-Antoine Baudouin. Staged by Frederick Ashton for The Royal Ballet in 1960. Lise, a beautiful young villager, is in love with Colas, a farmer. They want to get married but Lise’s mother, widow Simone, has arranged to marry Lise off to Alain, the dimwitted, umbrella-obsessed son of Thomas, a rich countryman

The Firebird (French: L'Oiseau de feu) is a ballet by Igor Stravinsky, written for the 1910 Paris season of Sergei Diaghilev's Ballets Russes, with choreography by Michel Fokine. Based on Russian fairy tales of the magical glowing bird that can be both a blessing and a curse to its owner. Tells the story of Prince Ivan who kills the evil magician Koschei with the help of the Firebird

Giselle is a romantic ballet with music by Adolphe Adam. Characters include Duke Albrecht of Silesia, Hilarion and Bathilde. Giselle is a peasant girl who dies of a broken heart

L’histoire de Manon, generally referred to as Manon, is a ballet choreographed by Kenneth MacMillan to music by Jules Massenet and based on the 1731 novel Manon Lescaut by Abbe Prevost. The ballet was first performed by The Royal Ballet in London in 1974

Mayerling is a ballet created in 1978 by Kenneth MacMillan for The Royal Ballet. Based on the events events leading to the death of Crown Prince Rudolf of Austria and his lover Baroness Mary Vetsera in 1889

A Midsummer Night’s Dream is a ballet choreographed by George Balanchine to Felix Mendelssohn's music. Premiered at New York City Ballet in 1962

The Nutcracker is a two-act ballet, originally choreographed by Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov with a score by Tchaikovsky. The libretto is adapted from E.T.A. Hoffmann's story The Nutcracker and the Mouse King. It was given its premiere at the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg in 1892. It is noted especially for its use of the celesta as solo instrument in the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy. Includes Waltz of the Snowflakes, Waltz of the Flowers, and Dance of the Reed Flutes. The children are Clara and Fritz

Ondine is a ballet created by the choreographer Frederick Ashton and composer Hans Werner Henze. It tells the tale of a water nymph who is the object of desire of a young prince named Palemon

Parade is a ballet with music by Erik Satie and a one-act scenario by Jean Cocteau. The ballet was composed for Sergei Diaghilev's Ballets Russes. The ballet premiered in 1917 in Paris, with costumes and sets designed by Pablo Picasso

Petrushka was choreographed by Michel Fokine, with music by Stravinsky. Petrushka is the story of a Russian traditional puppet, Petrushka, who is made of straw and with a bag of sawdust as his body, but who comes to life and develops emotions. Both Petrushka and a Moor fall in love with a Ballerina. The character of Petrushka was danced by Nijinsky at the premiere performed by Ballet Russes in 1911

The Prince of the Pagodas is a ballet created for The Royal Ballet in 1957, by choreographer John Cranko, with music commissioned from Benjamin Britten. The ballet was later revived in a new production by Kenneth MacMillan in 1989, achieving widespread acclaim for Darcey Bussell's premiere in a principal role

Raymonda was choreographed by Marius Petipa, with music by Alexander Glazunov. First presented by the Imperial Ballet at the Imperial Mariinsky Theatre in 1898. Raymonda is a countess from Doris castle

The Rite of Spring (French: Le Sacre du printemps) is a ballet and orchestral concert work by Stravinsky. It was written for the 1913 Paris season of Ballets Russes; the original choreography was by Vaslav Nijinsky. When first performed, in Paris in 1913, the avant-garde nature of the music and choreography caused a sensation and a near-riot in the audience. The Rite of Spring is in two parts – Adoration of the Earth, and The Sacrifice

Romeo and Juliet is a ballet by Prokofiev. Kenneth MacMillan's Royal Ballet production premiered at the Royal Opera House in 1965. Romeo and Juliet were danced by Rudolph Nureyev and Margot Fonteyn

The Sleeping Beauty was first performed in 1890. The music was composed by Tchaikovsky and was his longest work. The choreographer of the original production was Marius Petipa longest work by Tchaikovsky. In 1922, Sergei Diaghilev arranged a 45-minute version of the final act of The Sleeping Beauty for his Ballets Russes, entitled Aurora's Wedding

Swan Lake was the first ballet composed by Tchaikovsky. Premiered by the Bolshoi Ballet in 1877. Swan Lake tells the story of Odette, a young girl doomed by an evil sorcerer. A spell is cast over her, condemning her to be a swan during the day and a human only at night. Odette is the queen of the swans, the most beautiful of all. In order to break the spell, a young man must acclaim his undying love for her. Siegfried falls in love with Odette. Odile (the black swan), is the daughter of the sorcerer von Rothbart

La Sylphide (English: The Sylph) is a romantic ballet. There were two versions of the ballet; the original one choreographed by Filippo Taglioni in 1832, and a version choreographed by August Bournonville in 1836. Bournonville's is the only version known to have survived and is one of the world's oldest surviving ballets. La Sylphide is often confused with the 1909 ballet Les Sylphides, another ballet involving the mythical sylph. The latter was choreographed by Michel Fokine for the Ballets Russes as a short performance

Sylvia is a ballet to music by Delibes. Frederick Ashton re-choreographed Sylvia in 1952 as a tribute to Margot Fonteyn. Sylvia is a nymph loyal to Diana

The Tales of Beatrix Potter is a 1992 ballet adapted for stage by Anthony Dowell from a 1971 film that was choreographed by Frederick Ashton

Ballet terms

Arabesque – A body position in which a dancer stands on one leg with the other leg turned out and extended behind the body, with both legs held straight

Barre – a horizontal bar, approximately waist height, used during ballet warm-up exercises and training

Corps de ballet – the group of dancers who are not soloists. They are a permanent part of the ballet company and often work as a backdrop for the principal dancers

En pointe (pointe) – supporting the body weight on the tips of the toes, usually while wearing structurally reinforced pointe shoes

Jete – a leap in which one leg appears to be thrown in the direction of the movement

Pas de deux – a dance duet

Plie – a smooth and continuous bending of the knees outward with the upper body held upright

Positions of the arms – two basic positions; fingers almost touching, and arms extended

Positions of the feet – five basic positions in modern-day classical ballet, known as the first through fifth positions. These five positions were invented by the Italian choreographer Cesare Negri in the 16th century. In the first position, the feet point in opposite directions, with heels touching

Tutu – a classic ballet skirt

Ballet styles


The romantic ballet period occurred in the mid 19th century mainly in Pairs in London. During this era the ideas of Romanticism that originated from art and literature influenced the themes of ballets. Giselle is a popular romantic ballet

Ballet blanc (French, 'white ballet') is a scene in which the ballerina and the female corps de ballet all wear white dresses or tutus. Typical in the Romantic style of ballet, ballets blancs are usually populated by supernatural creatures and spirits


Classical ballet developed in the late 19th century when Marius Petipa was ballet master in St Petersburg. Classical ballet is a mixture of the French style of Romantic ballet, the techniques developed in Italy in the late 19th century, and Russian teaching. Swan Lake and The Sleeping Beauty are popular classical ballets


Neoclassical ballet is the one adapted to Broadway in a mixture of classical ballet and today's contemporary ballet. The style developed in the 20th century with the pioneer George Balanchine, who brought the advanced technique of the Russian Imperial dance of en pointe work


Contemporary ballet employs classical ballet technique and in many cases classical pointe technique as well, though Many of its attributes come from the ideas and innovations of 20th century modern dance

Ballet companies

American Ballet Theatre was founded in 1937 and is based in New York City. It is the the parent company of the American Ballet Theatre Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School

Ballet Russes was based in Paris, and performed between 1909 and 1929 throughout Europe and on tours to North and South America. Originally conceived by Sergei Diaghilev, the Ballets Russes is widely regarded as the most influential ballet company of the 20th century

Birmingham Royal Ballet was founded in 1946 as the Sadler's Wells Theatre Ballet, the company was established as a sister company to the earlier Sadler's Wells company, which moved to the Royal Opera House. The new company remained at Sadler's Wells for many years, becoming known as the Sadler's Wells Royal Ballet. In 1997, the Birmingham Royal Ballet became independent of the Royal Ballet in London

Bolshoi Ballet is based at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow. Founded in 1776, the Bolshoi is among the world's oldest ballet companies. In 2013 artistic director Sergei Filin was attacked with sulphuric acid, and Bolshoi dancer Pavel Dmitrichenko was convicted of organizing the attack and sentenced to six years in prison

English National Ballet was founded by Dame Alicia Markova and Sir Anton Dolin in 1950 as the London Festival Ballet. Based at Markova House in South Kensington. Along with The Royal Ballet, Birmingham Royal Ballet and Scottish Ballet, it is one of the four major ballet companies in Great Britain

Joffrey Ballet is a professional dance company resident in Chicago. The company regularly performs both classical ballets and modern dance pieces

Mariinsky Ballet is based at the Mariinsky Theatre in Saint Petersburg. Founded in the 18th century and originally known as the Imperial Russian Ballet, the Mariinsky Ballet is one of the world's leading ballet companies. Internationally, the Mariinsky Ballet is most commonly known by its former Soviet name the Kirov Ballet

New York City Ballet is a ballet company founded in 1948 by choreographer George Balanchine and Lincoln Kirstein

Paris Opera Ballet is the oldest national ballet company in the world. It has always been an integral part of the Paris Opera, which was founded in 1669. The Paris Opera now mainly uses the Palais Garnier for ballet

Rambert Dance Company, formerly the Ballet Club and Ballet Rambert, is a contemporary dance company founded in 1926 by Dame Marie Rambert at the Mercury Theatre in London. Initially founded as a touring ballet company, it was relaunched during the mid-1960s as a contemporary dance company. It is the oldest dance company in UK

The Royal Ballet was founded in 1931 by Dame Ninette de Valois. It became the resident ballet company of the Royal Opera House in 1946 and was granted a Royal Charter in 1956. Based at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden

Scottish Ballet was founded in 1957 and is based in Glasgow

Ballet schools

English National Ballet School is the official associate school of English National Ballet. Tamaro Rojo is Artistic Director. Established in Hortensia Road, Chelsea, in 1988

The Moscow State Academy of Choreography, commonly known as The Bolshoi Ballet Academy, is one of the oldest and most prestigious schools of ballet in the world, located in Moscow. It is the affiliate school of the Bolshoi Ballet

Royal Ballet School trains classical ballet dancers for The Royal Balle and Birmingham Royal Ballet. The school is based over two sites, White Lodge, Richmond Park (for students aged 11–16) and Covent Garden (for students from 16–19 years old) based in purpose-built studios on Floral Street, adjacent to the Royal Opera House. Established in 1931

Vaganova Academy of Russian Ballet in Saint Petersburg was established in 1738. The academy was known as the Imperial Ballet School until 1957, when the school was renamed in honor of the pedagogue Agrippina Vaganova, who cultivated the method of classical ballet training that has been taught there since the late 1920s. The Vaganova Academy is the associate school of the Mariinsky Ballet


Carlos Acosta (born 1973) is a Cuban ballet dancer. He has been a permanent member of The Royal Ballet since 1998, and in 2003 he was promoted to Principal Guest Artist. Appointed CBE in the 2014 New Year Honours. Acosta’s last role is Don Jose in Carmen for The Royal Ballet

Frederick Ashton (1904 – 1988) was a British ballet dancer and choreographer, born in Ecuador. He was chief choreographer to Ninette de Valois, from 1935 until her retirement in 1963, in the Royal Ballet. He succeeded de Valois as director of the company, serving until his own retirement in 1970

George Balanchine (1904 – 1983) was born in Saint Petersburg to Georgian parents, and was one of the 20th century's foremost choreographers, a pioneer of ballet in the United States and co-founder of New York City Ballet: his work forms a bridge between classical and modern ballet

Mikhail Baryshnikov (born 1948) was born in Riga. In 1974, while on tour in Canada with the Kirov Ballet, Baryshnikov defected, requesting political asylum in Toronto, and joined the Royal Winnipeg Ballet. He joined the New York City Ballet as a principal dancer to learn George Balanchine's style of movement. He then danced with the American Ballet Theatre, where he later became artistic director

Darcey Bussell (born 1969) started her professional career at Sadlers Wells Royal Ballet, but after only one year she moved to The Royal Ballet, where she became a principal dancer at just 20 years old, and remained for her whole career. In 2012 she became the president of the Royal Academy of Dance, and joined the judging panel of the BBC's Strictly Come Dancing

Misty Copeland (born 1982) was born in Kansas City, and was the subject of a custody battle when aged 16. She is the first African American woman to be promoted to principal dancer at American Ballet Theatre. In April 2015, she was named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time

Sergei Diaghilev (1872 – 1929) was the founder of the Ballets Russes, from which many famous dancers and choreographers would arise. Diaghilev and Nijinsky became lovers, but he dismissed Nijinsky from the Ballets Russes after the dancer's marriage in 1913. His most notable composer-collaborator was Igor Stravinsky

Michel Fokine (1880 – 1942) debuted on the stage of the Imperial Mariinsky Theatre with the Imperial Russian Ballet (now the Mariinsky Ballet) on his 18th birthday. He became known for his reformist ideas as both a dancer and a choreographer. In 1909 he became the resident choreographer of the Ballets Russes in Paris. He became a United States citizen in 1932, and staged more than 70 ballets

Margot Fonteyn (1919 – 1991) spent her entire career as a dancer with The Royal Ballet, eventually being appointed Prima Ballerina Assoluta of the company by Queen Elizabeth II. In 1955 Fonteyn married Dr Roberto Arias, a Panamanian diplomat to London. Her greatest artistic partnership was with Rudolf Nureyev

Sylvie Guillem (born 1965) was the top-ranking female dancer with the Paris Opera Ballet from 1984 to 1989, before becoming a principal guest artist with the Royal Ballet in London. She was the youngest ever 'etoile', the highest-ranking female dancer at the Paris Opera Ballet. Nickname was “Mademoiselle Non!”

Kenneth MacMillan (1929 – 1992) abandoned his career as a ballet dancer in his twenties. After this he worked entirely as a choreographer, and was artistic director of the Royal Ballet in London between 1970 and 1977, and its principal choreographer from 1977 until his death. He created ten full-length ballets

Alicia Markova (1910 – 2004) was the first British dancer to become the principal dancer of a ballet company. Joined the Ballet Russes, aged 14. She was a founder dancer of the Rambert Dance Company, The Royal Ballet and American Ballet Theatre, and was co-founder and director of the English National Ballet

Vaslav Nijinsky (1889 – 1950) was born in Kiev to ethnic Polish parents. In 1909 he joined the Ballets Russes, where became the company's star male dancer. In 1912 he began choreographing original ballets. He was interned in Budapest during World War I. After being diagnosed with schizophrenia he never danced again

Rudolf Nureyev (1938 – 1993) was born on a Trans-Siberian train near Irkutsk. He was in Kirov ballet before defecting in Paris in 1961, despite KGB efforts to stop him. Nureyev was Principal Dancer at the Royal Ballet from 1962 to 1970. In 1983, Nureyev was appointed director of the Paris Opera Ballet

Anna Pavlova (1881 – 1931) was a principal artist of the Imperial Russian Ballet and the Ballets Russes. Moved to Golders Green in 1912. Pavlova is perhaps most renowned for creating the role of The Dying Swan, a solo choreographed for her by Michel Fokine. The ballet, created in 1905, is danced to Le cygne from The Carnival of the Animals by Camille Saint-Saens

Marius Petipa (1818 – 1910) was a French-Russian ballet dancer, teacher and choreographer. Petipa is considered to be the most influential ballet master and choreographer of ballet who has ever lived. Ballet master of the St. Petersburg Imperial Theatres from 1871 until 1903

Marie Rambert (1888 – 1982) was born in Warsaw. She moved to the UK in 1914, and had a great influence on British ballet, both as a dancer and teacher. In 1926 she created her own company, originally named Ballet Club, which became Ballet Rambert

Tamara Rojo (born 1974) was born in Montreal, to Spanish parents who moved back to Spain when she was four months old. She left Spain to join the Scottish National Ballet, then moved to the English National Ballet, where she is now Artistic Director and a principal dancer. Rojo became a principal dancer of the Royal Ballet in 2000, and has been working with the company extensively ever since

Lydia Sokolova (1896 – 1974) joined Ballets Russes in 1913 to become the company's first English ballerina. She was the principal character dancer of the company until it disbanded in 1929. Sokolova's most famous role was that of the Chosen Maiden in The Rite of Spring

Ninette de Valois (1898 – 2001) was an Irish-born British dancer, teacher, choreographer and director of classical ballet. Most notably, she danced professionally with Ballets Russes, later establishing The Royal Ballet, one of the foremost ballet companies of the 20th century and one of the leading ballet companies in the world today. She also established the Birmingham Royal Ballet and Royal Ballet School