19th Century Romantic Ballet

Ballet has suffered from bad press for a long time. It is seen as a “misogynist,” “conservative” art form and an “aristocratic” relic. In this course we will study the context and the content of romantic ballet as it emerged as a revolutionary movement in the early 19th century in France. We will read and analyze ballet libretti of French, English, German, Italian and Russian works and contextualize their stories. We are going to answer the following questions: When and why do women become the heroines of ballet narratives? What do these heroines stand for? What is their relationship to their male counterparts? 
Through the theories of Heinrich Heine and Théophile Gautier we are going to understand the concept of romanticism in dance and follow its development to the end of the 19th century into the early 20th century. Together with the narrative we shall trace the history of ballet from the 15th century to the French revolution, study the social reality of the dance world, the practice in the opera houses of Europe and the development of a particular dance aesthetic that made ballet world famous.

TR 12-1:30


  • HIST-491
  • ENGL-250
  • THAR-290

Copyright © 2011. All Rights Reserved.

The Gender, Sexuality and Women's Studies Program at the University of Pennsylvania

The Alice Paul Center for Research on Gender, Sexuality and Women

3810 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104 | (215) 898-8740

Penn Web Login | Site Design by Lucid Digital Designs