What’s So Great About Ballet?

Thomas Kelly
Thomas Kelly
Harvard University

Thomas Kelly is a Morton B. Knafel Research Professor of Music at Harvard University. He was named a Harvard College Professor in recognition of his teaching. He won the Otto Kinkeldey Award of the American Musicological Society for “The Beneventan Chant.” His books include First Nights: Five Performance Premieres, First Nights at the Opera, and Capturing Music: The Story of Notation. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, an Honorary Citizen of the city of Benevento, and a Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et Lettres of the French Republic.


Have you ever thought “I don’t think I want to go to the ballet…,” but once you do you are absolutely captivated?  Professor Tom Kelly may not be a ballet expert, but as a former Chair of the Harvard Music Department, as well as a lecturer at The Julliard School, he knows a thing or two about this global performing art.  In this talk, Kelly will make some connections between the terms we might recognize (plié, pirouette, etc.) and the movements of dance. We’ll also discuss where ballet comes from, and how it fits into the history of theater and opera. By highlighting some of the ballet’s most famous examples, such as The Nutcracker and Swan Lake, he’ll show you what to look for and expect (…when, and if, you go again).



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