8 Most Popular Classical Ballets Of All Time

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8 Most Popular Classical Ballets Of All Time


Classical ballet is known for bringing romantic stories to life and allowing its audiences to feel a mixture of emotions while watching. Usually accompanied by classical music or an orchestral score, classical ballet is the best way an individual can immerse themselves in tales of love and happiness.

Whether you're a ballet enthusiast or not, listed below are some of the top 8 must-see classical ballets of all time.


Swan Lake / Photo by: Thomas Barwick and Getty Images via Liveaboutdotcom


1. Swan Lake

A story that almost everyone is familiar with, this ballet was composed by Tchaikovsky and choreographed by Julius Reisinger in 1875. It first premiered at the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow, Russia, in 1877. Most of us probably know the story of Swan Lake, but for those who have never heard of it, it is a story of a beautiful young woman named Odette, cursed by an evil sorcerer named Rothbart. 

Due to her curse, Odette takes on two forms: the Swan Queen by day and a human at night, where she first meets and falls in love with Prince Seigfried. 



Cinderella / Photo by: Split Second and Getty Images via Liveaboutdotcom


2. Cinderella

There are various versions of the Cinderella story. The ballet is mostly based on the original fairytale written by the French storyteller, Charles Perrault. In his version, the "Cinderella" story is about a young girl who finds happiness and love through her acts of kindness. 

This is a three-act ballet and it first premiered in Moscow in 1945, with its music composed by Sergei Prokofiev in 1940.



Giselle / Photo by: Stu Smucker and Getty Images via Liveaboutdotcom


3. Giselle

First performed by Carlotta Grisi, an Italian prima ballerina, the ballet was shown at the Salle Le Peletier in Paris during 1842. Set in the Middle Ages, the story is about the romance between Duke Albrecht of Silesia and Giselle, a shy and lovely commoner who has a weak heart.

Unfortunately, Albrecht is already engaged to the Duke of Courtland's daughter, which prompts him to put on a disguise and go by the name of Loys, all with the intention of courting Giselle during the grape harvest festival. Almost everything is going to Albrecht's plan, but soon enough, problems arise as Hilarion, another young man who is in love with Giselle, exposes Loys as the Duke Albrecht.

After learning of Loys' betrayal, Giselle goes mad and dances to her death. The story then transitions to the second part of the ballet where Giselle is now part of Wilis, a group of virgin girls who died before getting married. They lure unlucky men to dance to their deaths. 



Sleeping Beauty ballet / Photo by: Beautiful Ballerinas and Instagram via Powered By Orange


4. Sleeping Beauty

First performed in 1890 in St. Petersburg, Russia, the ballet tells the classic fairytale of Princess Aurora who is cursed by a sleeping spell. Much like the original story, the only way to break the spell is to be kissed by a handsome prince. 

Legend says that this was the first ballet ever attended by eight-year-old Anna Pavlova, who would later grow up to be one of the world's most renowned prima ballerinas of all time. 



The Nutcracker / Photo by: Buzz Dance Channel TV


5. The Nutcracker

Another Tchaikovsky composition, this is one of the most famous family-friendly Christmas shows performed by numerous ballet companies around the world. The ballet follows the story of a young woman named Clara, or often known as Marie or Masha, who dreams about a Nutcracker Prince engaged in a fierce battle against an evil seven-headed Mouse King. 



Coppelia / Photo by: Buzz Dance Channel TV


6. Coppélia

Often called "The Girl With the Enamel Eyes," this three-act ballet is a lot similar with "The Nutcracker," as it is about a young man named Franz falling in love with a life-size mechanical doll created by Dr. Coppelius. In order to make the doll come to life, Coppelius needs to make a human sacrifice.

Luckily, Swanhilda, who is Franz' betrothed, manages to save him. The ballet first premiered in 1870 with music composed by Léo Delibes and the libretto by Charles-Louis-Étienne Nuitter.



La Sylphide / Photo by: Buzz Dance Channel TV


7. La Sylphide

The ballet is about a young Scotsman named James, who is about to get married, but later falls in love with a sylph, or a mythological air spirit. All does not end well for either James or his beautiful Sylphide.



Romeo and Juliet / Photo by: Damir Yusupov Bolshoi Theatre via Buzz Dance Channel TV


8. Romeo and Juliet

Originally written by the English playwright, William Shakespeare, this tragic ballet is all about a pair of star-crossed lovers who are doomed by their own romance. Set in Verona, Italy in 1303, the pair, Juliet and Romeo, belong to two rival families who have been stuck in a long dispute.

At the climax of the ballet, the pair eventually decide that if they can't be together in this life, then they will be together in the next.



Sarah Dongon

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