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Ballet d'action is a ballet movement started by Frenchmarker choreographer Jean Georges Noverre in 1760. It involves expression of character and emotion through dancers' bodies and faces, rather than through elaborate costumes and props. The movement began due to Noverre's negative reaction to what he considered the dancers' undue focus on technical expertise and neglect of the true purpose of ballet.


In his book Lettres sur la danse et les ballets, Noverre asserted that the purpose of ballet is to "to represent characters and express their feelings" [274760]. He advocated a move away from the use of bulky costumes to express character; instead, he stated that only the dancers' movements should matter. It was toward this end that Noverre developed ballet d'action.

Some dance historians maintain that earlier choreographers developed ballets in the ballet d'action style [274761] even though Noverre is widely recognized as the principal innovator of the movement.

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