A ballerina is a title used to describe a principal
Principal dancer
A principal dancer is a dancer at the highest rank within a professional dance company, particularly a ballet company....

 female professional ballet
Ballet is a type of performance dance, that originated in the Italian Renaissance courts of the 15th century, and which was further developed in France and Russia as a concert dance form. The early portions preceded the invention of the proscenium stage and were presented in large chambers with...

 dancer in a large company; the male equivalent to this title is danseur (French) or ballerino (Italian). Although the term ballerina is now commonly used informally to describe any female ballet dancer, it was once a rank given only to the most exceptional female soloists. The opera singer informal equivalent is diva
A diva is a celebrated female singer. The term is used to describe a woman of outstanding talent in the world of opera, and, by extension, in theatre, cinema and popular music. The meaning of diva is closely related to that of "prima donna"....

. More or less, depending on the source, the rankings for women, from highest to lowest, used to be:
  • Prima ballerina, première sujet or première danseuse
  • Sujet
  • Coryphée
  • Corps de ballet
    Corps de ballet
    In ballet, the corps de ballet is the group of dancers who are not soloists. They are a permanent part of the ballet company and often work as a backdrop for the principal dancers. A corps de ballet works as one, with synchronized movements and corresponding positioning on the stage...

For men, the ranks were:
  • Premier danseur noble
  • Premier danseur
  • Sujet
  • Coryphée
  • Corps de ballet

Today, ballet companies continue to rank their dancers in hierarchical fashion, although most have adopted a sex neutral classification system, and very few recognise a single leading dancer. In most large companies, there are usually several leading dancers of each sex, titled Principal Dancer or Etoile to reflect their seniority within the company. Other common rankings include those of Corps de Ballet and Soloist. The title of Prima Ballerina Assoluta is rarely used, and it is usually reserved as a mark of respect for an internationally renowned dancer who has had a highly notable career. Dancers who are identified as a Guest Artist, are usually those who have achieved a high rank with their company, and have subsequently been engaged to dance with other ballet companies around the world, normally performing the lead role.

Prima ballerina assoluta

The title or rank of prima ballerina assoluta was originally inspired by the Italian ballet masters of the early Romantic Ballet
Romantic ballet
The Romantic ballet is defined primarily by an era in ballet in which the ideas of Romanticism in art and literature influenced the creation of ballets. The era occurred during the early to mid 19th century primarily at the Théâtre de l'Académie Royale de Musique of the Paris Opera Ballet and Her...

 and was bestowed on a ballerina who was considered to be exceptionally talented, above the standard of other leading ballerinas. The title is very rarely used today and recent uses have typically been symbolic, in recognition of a notable career and as a result, it is commonly viewed as an honour rather than an active rank.

See also

  • Principal dancer
    Principal dancer
    A principal dancer is a dancer at the highest rank within a professional dance company, particularly a ballet company....

  • Russian ballet
    Russian ballet
    Russian ballet is a form of ballet characteristic of or originating from Russia. In the early 19th century, the theaters were opened up to anyone who could afford a ticket. There was a seating section called a rayok, or 'paradise gallery', that consisted of simple wooden benches...

  • Ballet company
    Ballet company
    A ballet company is a group of dancers who perform ballet, plus managerial and support staff. Most major ballet companies employ dancers on a year-round basis, except in the United States, where contracts for part of the year are the norm...

  • Western stereotype of the male ballet dancer
    Western stereotype of the male ballet dancer
    Since the early 19th century, Western society has adopted a negative view of male ballet dancers, or danseurs. Danseurs are stereotyped as weak, effeminate, homosexual or unnatural.This belief began in the early 19th century at the emergence of Romanticism...

External links

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