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Different "styles" of ballet

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I was wondering if some of you might be able to expound a bit on the various types of ballet - in the sense of classical, neoclassical and contemporary...? Are these valid terms and can someone explain to the differences, the similarities (if any) and a bit of the history of ballet with regard to the birth and evolution of these different styles.

Is the word "style" even the proper term to use? Within classical do we include Vaganova, Cechetti, French, Italian, English, RAD?

I think that I have a very basic knowledge from reading, but I would love to hear what our Ballet Mistress and others in the know have to say. I have to believe that I am not the only one out here who gets a bit confused. I would say that ABT is generally considered a more clasical company; NYCB neoclassical, Boston and Washington(yes?) classical, but what about PNB, SFB, Miami, Pennsylvania? And what about all the various international ballet companies? :)

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Thanks Alexandra! If anyone else is interested, just remember to click on the little button that says how far back in time you want to go - and pick the beginning! I shall read through the different topics later tonight, I hope.

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While some of the people who took part in those first discussions may not want to go over the same ground, there are a lot of people posting now who weren't on the board the first few months and I'd be interested in your take on this question too.

We've had nearly 400 people register since January 1 (!!!). Only a few have posted. I'm very happy that in the past few weeks we've been hearing from a lot of new voices -- please chime on this one, too :)

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