What’s So Great About Ballet?

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Duration 00:01:10

Harvard University

Thomas Kelly is a Morton B. Knafel Research Professor of Music at Harvard University. He was named a Harvard College Professor in recognition of his teaching and won the Otto Kinkeldey Award of the American Musicological Society for “The Beneventan Chant.” His books include First Nights: Five Performance PremieresFirst Nights at the Opera, and Capturing Music: The Story of Notation. Professor Kelly is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, an Honorary Citizen of the city of Benevento, and a Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et Lettres of the French Republic.



Have you ever thought “I don’t think I want to go to the ballet…,” but once you do you are absolutely captivated?  Professor Tom Kelly may not be a ballet expert, but as a former Chair of the Harvard Music Department, as well as a lecturer at The Julliard School, he knows a thing or two about this global performing art.  In this talk, Kelly will make some connections between the terms we might recognize (plié, pirouette, etc.) and the movements of dance. We’ll also discuss where ballet comes from, and how it fits into the history of theater and opera. By highlighting some of the ballet’s most famous examples, such as The Nutcracker and Swan Lake, he’ll show you what to look for and expect (…when, and if, you go again).



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Wendy P. Battisti

Much more than I expected

Based on the introduction, our expectations for this were that it would not be ‘what we were looking for’, in that we expected a more simplistic view of ballet. However, we loved the history and background, and of course, the video clips – especially to see, in a short sequence – how the athleticism has evolved, while the artistry has been maintained or elevated by certain dancers and choreographers. And yet, that said, how some of the choreography would even today be considered very modern.

2 years ago

So inspiring

Professor Kelly’s presentation was outstanding. Yes, the artistic human creation of the body as its instrument is a treasure! I learned so much and greatly appreciate ballet even more. My questions regarding the basic positions, choreography, and history were answered and have piqued my interest in delving deeper into ballet dance technique.

2 years ago
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