Narrative ballet

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Scene from the ballet Swan Lake

A narrative ballet or story ballet is a form of ballet that has a plot and characters. It is typically a production with full sets and costumes. It was an invention of the eighteenth century.[1]

Most romantic and classical ballets of the 19th century were narrative ballets. Among the most well known are Swan Lake, The Sleeping Beauty, and Cinderella.[2][3] For these and other classic narrative ballets it is common for ballet directors to create their own choreography, while maintaining the plot and music used by the original 19th-century choreographer. Kenneth MacMillan and Frederick Ashton were neoclassical ballet choreographers that created original narrative ballets in the 20th century.[2]

Narrative ballets are essential to a ballet company's repertoire, because they tend to generate the highest sales and bring families with children to see the ballet. Many newer narrative ballets are adapted from familiar stories or literature because they are recognizable to audiences.[4]

Notable narrative ballets[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Weickmann, Dorion (2007). "Choreography and narrative: the ballet d'action of the eighteenth century". Cambridge University Press.
  2. ^ a b Kourlas, Gia (February 3, 2012). "Tharp's New Tale, Woven In Dance". The New York Times. Retrieved March 14, 2012.
  3. ^ Mackrell, Judith (May 31, 2013). "When ballet loses the plot with narratives". The Guardian.
  4. ^ Beaumont, Rachel (November 20, 2014). "Stories without words: Narrative ballets and their many inspirations". Royal Opera House.