The history of American ballet is rich and varied, spanning more than a century of development and evolution of the art of ballet in the United States. Here is a brief overview of the history of American ballet:
- Early Steps (18th-19th centuries): The art of ballet came to America with immigrants from Europe in the late 18th century. The first performances of ballet in the United States involved imported companies from France and Russia.
- Ballet and American Identity (19th century): The 19th century saw the formation of an American identity in ballet. Some ballerinas, such as Fanny Ellsler and Adasa Duncan, became famous and gave American ballet its own character.
- The 20th Century and Broadway: In the 20th century, ballet in the United States became more diverse and experimental. American choreographers such as George Balanchine became famous all over the world. He founded the New York City Ballet (later New York City Ballet), which is considered one of the world’s leading ballet ensembles.
- Modern Ballet: In the post-war decades, ballet in the United States continued to evolve and made heavy use of modern and experimental techniques. Choreographers such as Merce Cunningham and Martha Graham contributed to the development of modern ballet.
- Diversification and Inclusion: In recent decades, ballet in the United States has become more diverse and open to inclusion. The variety of choreographic styles and approaches, as well as the increasing number of African American and other non-white ballerinas and choreographers, reflect current sociocultural trends.
- Ballet on Broadway: American ballet is also closely associated with Broadway, where ballet elements are often incorporated into musicals and theatre productions. Some musicals such as West Side Story and Cats are known for their ballet numbers.
- Contemporary Ballet Companies: the United States is now home to many outstanding ballet companies, including New York City Ballet, Seattle Ballet Theatre, San Francisco Opera Company, and others. These companies continue to advance the art of ballet in the country.
The history of American ballet is a testament to the richness and diversity of the art in the United States, with American ballerinas and ballet dancers contributing to the world ballet art and continuing to develop and refine it.