1998 32¢ American Ballet
Issue Date: September 16, 1998
City: New York, NY
Printed By: Sterling Sommer for Ashton-Potter (USA) Ltd
Printing Method: Lithographed
Perforations: 10.9 x 11.1
The roots of ballet can be traced to Italy during the Renaissance, when people developed a great interest in culture and learning. At that time, the dukes who ruled the country were growing very wealthy, and they promoted the arts. However, historians consider the French work Ballet Comique de la Reine to be the first formal ballet performance. Lasting over five hours, it was staged in 1581 in honor of a royal wedding.
Ballet Comique de la Reine established Paris as the ballet capital of the world, and professional dancing began there. Until then, the dancers were noblemen and noblewomen who danced to please their rulers.
Russian-born George Balanchine, who established the School of American Ballet, contributed much to ballet dancing here. Mikhail Baryshnikov, world-famous Russian dancer, defected to the West in 1974 and soon joined the American Ballet Theatre in New York City. During the 1980s, he served as director of the school. Other leading American dancers include Robert Joffrey, Nora Kaye, and Arthur Mitchell.
Today, ballet performers must be believable actors and actresses as well as expert dancers. The art has undergone many changes in recent years, including dances set to popular rather than classical music.