The impact of the French Revolution on Ballet

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The impact of the French Revolution on Ballet

The French Revolution was a bloody civil war that lasted from the years 1789-1799. [1] The revolution arose out of hard economic times that had befallen France. Widespread famine and hunger, due to a grain shortage, rampaged through sections of the country. The economic crisis led to an increase in taxes on the lower classes, known as the third estate, to upkeep the lavish lifestyle of the nobility. [1] All of these are the known factors that led to the rise of the French Revolution. The revolution emphasized the ideals of “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity” and was characterized by the strong will of the French people who stood up for what they believed in. It was also an extremely
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[4] Costumes during the period immediately preceding the Revolution, commonly known as the Baroque period, were extremely showy. Dances were typically cold and extremely stylized, they did not seek to connect with the audience but rather to astound them with extreme wealth. Watching a ballet from the time period would more likely leave the audience in awe at the scenery and intricacies rather than feeling raw emotion from a moving storyline. Ballet’s that were shown in the theaters leading up to the fall of the Bastille were always subject to scrutiny and censorship. Each ballet or play that was shown on stage had to be consistent with the political and social views of the monarchy. Ballet was rooted in court life, and it was not as widely available to the common people. As such, it had to adapt in order to survive this particularly deadly and brutal period in time. The ballet’s that the court was accustomed to seeing were disconnected from the lower class, just like the actual courtiers themselves. Ballet is just one example of why exactly the French people rose up against their government. They spent massive amounts of money on an opulent lifestyle while the peasants could not even afford bread. However, just because the style of dance that was established was out of touch with the revolutionaries does not mean that dance did not thrive and adapt to the times. During the Revolution, ballet took on three distinct forms: ballet based in
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