French School of ballet, or "Ecole Française," developed in
court ceremonies of French monarchs many years ago. The French School
is considered to be the basis of all ballet training.
Characteristics of the French School
The French School of ballet training is known for its clean and sophisticated style. The French style stresses elegance and soft, graceful movements. Rather than emphasizing perfect technique, ballet dancers of the French School focus instead on fluidity and elegance. This method of ballet is also characterized by extremely quick steps, with series of steps performed quick enough to appear as a single movement.
The quickness of the steps give the dancers the illusion of gliding smoothly
and effortless across the floor. Because of the romantic aspects of the
style, the music is played more slowly than other styles of ballet.
The French School of ballet was defined by the great French dancer and choreographer Rudolf Nureyev. Nureyev directed the Paris Opera Ballet and choreographed alternate versions of classic ballets such as "La Bayadere", "Swan Lake", "Romeo and Juliet", "Cinderella" and "Sleeping Beauty."
Nureyev's strong artistic direction led to the formation of a whole generation of young principal dancers (Etoiles), known as the Nureyev Babies. These dancers included such greats as Manuel Legris, Laurent Hilaire, Kader Belarbi, Isabelle Guerin, and Elisabeth Maurin.