There are many different definitions for ballet, but the two I feel are the most important are:
1) A classical dance form demanding grace and precision and employing formalized steps and gestures set in intricate, flowing patterns to create expression through movement.
2)a theatrical entertainment in which ballet dancing and music, often with scenery and costumes, combine to tell a story, establish an emotional atmosphere, etc.
Ballet didn't start recently, it has been around since the 15th Century. Ballet originated in the Italian Renaissance courts and it further developed in France, England and Russia as a concert dance form.
Ballet was presented in large chambers with most of the audience seated on tiers or galleries on three sides of the stage. Since then, it has become a highly technical form of dance with it's own vocabulary words. It is performed with the accompaniment of classical music and has influenced different forms of dance around the world.
In 1661, the first ballet school was opened in France. This dance school was started by King Louis XIV (the fourteenth). During this time period women were allowed to dance, this was also the same in theater, for those of you who know anything about that. In 1681, women were finally allowed to dance, however, they could only wear ankle-length dresses, as opposed to today.
From the start of ballet until 1789, ballet wasn't only danced, the performers also recited poems and sang songs.
Many of the dance terms that we know today originated when ballet first started, and a good majority of them still have the same names that were used then.
Ballet can also be danced with two different types of shoes. Either regular ballet shoes, or soft, and point.
Point is where the dance stands on the top of their toes.
The difference is quite noticeable.
And these are point shoes. The first pair of point shoes were actually regular ballet slippers that were heavily darned at the tip. It would allow the girl to briefly stand on her toes to appear weightless. It was later converted to the hard box that is used today.
There are also three different forms of ballet: Classical, Neoclassical and Contemporary.
Classical Ballet is the most methodical of the ballet styles; it adheres to traditional ballet technique. There are variations relating to area of origin, such as Russian, French, Bournonville and Italian
Neoclassical Ballet is a ballet style that uses traditional ballet vocabulary but is less rigid than classical ballet. Spacing in neoclassical ballet is usually more modern or complex than in classical ballet.
Contemporary Ballet is a form of dance influenced by both classical ballet and modern dance. It takes it technique and use of point work from classical ballet, although it permits a greater range of movement that may not adhere to the strict body lines set forth by schools of ballet technique. Many concepts come from 20th century modern dance.