Romantic ballet originated in France around 1830s and marked the era of preference of literary themes over mythological ones. Needless to say, libretto became extremely important and famous writers and playwrights were invited to work on the plots. Romantic ballets were based off both old and then-contemporary works and were not required to precisely retell the original plotline. The most important part was the ambience of the story and the psychological transformation of the protagonist.
In the ballets of the Romantic era, the real world, traditionally, opposes fantasy. It’s the protagonist who, tormented by inner conflicts, yearns to find escape in the latter. The artistic structure required a portrayal of mythical world, thus came to life a ballerina, airy, ethereal creature, barely touching the ground with the tips of her toes.
The first sufficient Romantic ballet is considered to be “La Sylphide”, produced in 1832. The star of the play, Marie Taglioni, was declared the first Romantic ballerina. Taglioni implemented the classic ballet technique into the character. After her excellent en pointe dancing, it caught on, eventually becoming a basic ballet manner, and arabesque came into fashion as a symbol of flying.
Although slightly altered, various Romantic ballets have been preserved to the present day, all thanks to Petersburg theatres borrowing them during the second half of the 19th century. The most notable ones are: “La Sylphide”, “Giselle”, “Le Corsaire”, “Coppélia”.