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Pointe-ing in the Right Direction

Learn about classical ballet!

Ballet has been around for centuries and has transformed over time. The word ballet comes from the Italian word ballare, which means “to dance.” Dating back to the 15th century, ballet was still relatively obscure until King Louis XIV of France began to popularize it in the 17th century. He loved to dance and would often participate in many ballet festivals and performances. With King Louis’ support, ballet became an elevated profession that required advanced training, instead of a dance done by the masses. Positions of the legs and arms and some of the foundational movements of classical ballet have remained the same over many years, even as the art form has evolved. Join UMS artist facilitator and professional dancer Jennifer Peters and get ready to move like a ballet dancer!

To learn more about the history of classical ballet and the amazing artists who have changed the ballet landscape, explore the accompanying slides and worksheets.

About the Artist

Jen PetersJen Peters is a professional dancer, teacher, scholar, and writer. She graduated cum laude from The Ailey School/Fordham University BFA program with a Dance major and English minor under the direction of Ana Marie Forsythe and the late Denise Jefferson. In 2021, she completed an MFA in Dance from University of Michigan’s Department of Dance and Rackham Graduate School, where she was awarded the Elsie Choy Lee CEW+ scholarship and a School of Music, Theatre and Dance EXCEL grant. She participated in an artistic cultural exchange between U-M and Costa Rica, where she taught for a youth community organization and the National University of Costa Rica and performed with a collective of U-M artists. As a U-M Graduate Student Instructor from 2018-2020, Ms. Peters created and taught numerous dance courses for dance majors, dance minors, and the broader non-major student population.

Ms. Peters continues working with the U-M Department of Dance as a Rehearsal Director and served as Assistant Artistic Director for the department’s 2019 and 2021 Power Center performances. She was invited to present her research on dance studio architecture at the Dance Studies Association Conference, and was a guest discussant for the U-M Taubman College of Architecture graduate seminar. Ms. Peters has taught a lecture on Dance Journalism and Interview Techniques as a guest instructor for U-M Professor Angela Kane’s Writing Dancing course for three consecutive semesters. She recently became a University Musical Society Artist Facilitator, where she filmed a lesson on Classical Ballet for the Performance Playground online series. Ms. Peters gratefully traces her ongoing drive for dance to her early ballet and modern teacher, the late Jill Wagoner Johnson. Her most recent movement inspirations come from her energetic three children!

Thank You to Our Supporters

C.S. Mott Children's Hospital

The 2022/23 Season of Performance Playground is supported by C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital.