Monday, June 6, 2016

Word of the Week - Ballet



This past weekend was full of ballet for my family, as my daughter danced in her theater's spring show, La Fille Mal Gardée.

I've never looked up where the word ballet comes from because, well...it's obviously French, right?

As it turns out, yes and no. The English word--which dates from the 1660s!--does indeed come from the French ballette. (I find it interesting that we say it as the French would if it were a masculine noun, but the word it comes from is feminine, and that T would have been pronounced. Does anyone speak French and know if they still use the -ette ending or if they've also changed it to -et over the years?) But that French word came, in fact, from Italian.

The Italian root is ballo, which just means "a dance." This is also where our ball comes from.

Though the word has been in use for a long time, from what I can see in the history of other ballet words (jete, plie, arabesque, etc.), the form we know and recognize today seems to have taken shape in the 1820-30s.

Made super-famous, of course, by the Ballet Russe, which of course everyone knows from reading The Lost Heiress--and you won't want to miss A Lady Unrivaled, which features the ballet even more. ;-)

Not that any of those prima ballerinas could possibly be as beautiful as my sweet Xoë. (Biased?? What do you mean???)


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