Home: Ballet: Second Empire

The Golden years of Ballet stretched out to the mid forties which left a legacy the following two decades failed to take full advantage of. The Materialistic Second Empire revealed a tendency to deprecate ballet as a theatre art and consider it as only a minor diversion of entertainment. The second Empire was not without it's success. It produced Coppelia and Sylvia which were both composed by Leo Delibes. Coppelia exemplified the precepts of ballet construction and emphasized one of the sucess of this period, an improvement in quality of ballet music.

In both Coppelia and Sylvia, Leo Delibes produced scores which were carefully constructed, perfectly fitting the action in the ballet and was worthy of being considered a independent musical composition. But perhaps the most significant achievement of the ballet during the Second Empire was the progress made in dance technique.

Male dancers began to become thin on the front ranks of many French ballets because of public prejudice. With the new progress centering on the ballerina, it thinned out the male dancers even more until there were female dancers filling in for male roles. Most of the remaining talent went to Russia or any where else that would take them thus ending the era of romantic ballet in Paris.