The great ballet reformer and choreographer Jean-Georges Noverre, considered the "father of modern ballet", was born on 29 April, 295 years ago. In 1982, UNESCO declared the date International Dance Day, and since then the entire ballet world has celebrated its professional holiday on this date.
Jean-Georges Noverre created in the Age of Enlightenment, when the time was ripe for emancipation of ballet as an independent performing art. Stage dance forms existed before Noverre, but they were reduced to monotonous divertissements. The French choreographer made perhaps the greatest reform in the history of ballet, defining it as an independent stage art, in which the action must develop logically and consistently, ballet dancers must show not only dance technique but also acting skills. The sets and artistic layout of the spectacle must accurately reflect the era and place of the action. In his theoretical work “Letters on Dance and Ballet”, Noverre laid the foundations of ballet law, presenting the principles of ballet as a performing art that combines dance, pantomime, music and fine arts. Written in the modern epistolary form of the time, in the form of answers to questions posed by an imaginary subject, this theoretical work emphasizes the basic principle that ballet is a synthetic stage art, combining dance, pantomime, music and fine arts, built on the principle of dramatic theatre – exposition, inception, denouement. Noverre also created forms of multi-act ballet, and his knowledge of anatomy allowed him to refine and expand the dance technique and capabilities of the ballet performers.
For the rest of his life, Noverre worked on his theoretical work, supplementing new facts, names, examples. He died on 19 October 1810 in extreme poverty, leaving a colossal legacy that summarizes the experience of ballet theatre from the XVIII century.