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310 Ballet Trivia Questions, Answers, and Fun Facts

How much do you know about Ballet? This category is for trivia questions and answers related to Ballet (Humanities). Each one is filled with fun facts and interesting information.
1 In this first ballet, I'm a fairy, waking from sleep only to fall in love with a donkey. What ballet based on a play am I stuck in?
Answer: A Midsummer Night's Dream

The worlds of humans and fairies collide in this ballet based on Shakespeare's play. The fairy Puck makes sleeping humans breathe the scent of a flower that will make them fall in love with the first person they see upon waking. Of course, they see the wrong person, and hijinks ensue. Titania, Queen of the fairies, also breathes this flower's aroma and falls in love with Bottom, a man who hass been given a donkey's head. Being a comedy, everything is set right and all lovers are matched to their proper partners by the end.
  From Quiz: Once More, I'm Trapped in a Ballet!
2 In the first ballet, I'm one of four dancers in identical white costumes, holding hands, and performing the same steps in perfect unison. In what popular ballet am I dancing?
Answer: Swan Lake

I'm in the "Dance of the Little Swans" in Act II. Four dancers have to execute the moves together or it's extremely obvious who's out of sync. These four are some of the swan maidens who attend Odette, the Swan Queen, a human who has been turned into a swan until a man makes her a pledge of eternal love. If he makes her a promise and then breaks it, she will remain a swan forever.
  From Quiz: I'm Trapped in a Ballet Again!
3 In classical ballet mime, pointing to the third finger of the left hand indicates what?
Answer: Marriage

This mime looks just like what it represents, as engagement and wedding rings are worn in the third finger of the left hand in many countries. In "Swan Lake", Siegfried announces his intention to marry who he thinks is Odette by pointing to this finger.
  From Quiz: Ballet Mime
4 The music for the most famous ballet associated with the name 'Swan Lake' was written by which Russian composer?
Answer: Tchaikovsky

Pyotr Ilyich Tachikovsky (1840-1893) was a late-Romantic composer whose work was not only popular at the time, but continues to be widely performed by "classical" orchestras. Although he was a contemporary of the Russian group known as The Five, he did not agree with their musical philosophy, preferring to integrate his Western training with the folk music of his childhood, rather than focusing on developing a Russian national style. As well as 'Swan Lake', he wrote the scores for 'The Nutcracker' and 'The Sleeping Beauty'.
    Your options: [ Rachmaninov ] [ Tchaikovsky ] [ Rimsky-Korsakov ] [ Stravinsky ]
  From Quiz: Swan Lake
5 'Swan Lake' was composed by Tchaikovsky. In which year did this take place?
Answer: 1875 - 1876

Tchaikovsky composed 'Swan Lake' in 1875, however it was quite unsuccessful after the first year of performance; conductors, dancers and many members of audience thought that the piece of music was much too difficult to dance to, and therefore rejected the piece. After Tchaikovsky's death, however, the piece was revived and popularised.
    Your options: [ 1875 - 1876 ] [ 1873 - 1874 ] [ 1876 - 1877 ] [ 1874 - 1875 ]
  From Quiz: History of 'Swan Lake'
6 What is the literal translation of tendu?
Answer: Tense

While tendu is pointed and you brush your foot through the floor to get to tendu, the literal translation of tendu is tense. The way you should tendu devant is you should push your heel forward as you are brushing out, preventing sickling. Your foot should go as follows: heel, instep, ball, toes. Then to brush back, it is the opposite: toes, ball, instep, heel. This is how the tendu should look, even in fast tendu combinations.
  From Quiz: Ballet Terms: Literal Translations
7 Tchaikovsky's "The Nutcracker" ballet was first performed in what year?
Answer: 1892

"The Nutcracker" did not make a debut on stages in the United States until 1944.
  From Quiz: Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker
8 In which country did ballet originate?
Answer: Italy

Ballet originated during the Renaissance. Catherine de' Medici brought it to the French court when she married Henry II.
    Your options: [ England ] [ France ] [ Italy ] [ Russia ]
  From Quiz: The History of Ballet
9 Who composed the music for the ballet "La Bayadere"?
Answer: Ludwig Minkus

Born in 1826 Ludwig Minkus was the "First ballet composer" for the St Petersburg Imperial Theatres from 1871 until the post was abolished in 1886. He still composed music for them until 1891 at which time he retired to Vienna where he died in 1917.
  From Quiz: "La Bayadere" Ballet
10 Who wrote the story that "The Nutcracker" is based on?
Answer: E.T.A. Hoffmann

Called "Nussknacker and Mausekonig" Tchaikovsky based his ballet on a sinister short story by E.T.A. Hoffmann. Hoffmann was a noted German author.
  From Quiz: The Nutcracker
11 Most ballet terminology is spoken in which language?
Answer: French

Although ballet originated in Italy, it took prominence in France in the reign of Louis XIV. The word 'ballet' comes from the Italian word 'balletto', which is a diminutive of the Italian word 'ballo' (dance).
    Your options: [ French ] [ English ] [ Italian ] [ Spanish ]
  From Quiz: Ballet - General
12 What does the French word "chaînés" [sheh-NAY] mean, as in "chaînés turns?"
Answer: chained or linked

Chaînés turns are quick, small turns done in a straight line or circle. They are sometimes called "petite turns."
  From Quiz: Simple French Terms in Ballet
13 Test time! What is the bending of the knees in ballet called?
Answer: plie

This movement is sometimes used in warm-ups at the barre.
  From Quiz: Professor Cheergal's Italian Ballet 101
14 What language are most ballet terms in?
Answer: French

Most ballet terms are in French like frappé, which means to strike, or pointe shoes which in English is point shoes.
  From Quiz: Arabesque en Pointe
15 Marie Allard, a French ballerina, was the mistress of Gaetano Vestris and the mother of Auguste Vestris. Why did she retire in 1782?
Answer: She became fat

She gave birth to Auguste in 1760.
  From Quiz: Eighteenth Century Dance
16 The coda in which ballet features the lead female doing 32 fouettes (or to be exact, to 32 *counts* of fouettes, which usually turns out to be about 28 and a pull-in)?
Answer: "Swan Lake"

"Don Q" has a million fouettes as well, although most ballerinas nowadays shudder when they hear the ominously familiar "dadun-dadun-dadun-dadadadadadun-dadadadadadun..."
    Your options: [ "Swan Lake" ] [ "The Nutcracker" ] [ "Sleeping Beauty" ] [ "Grand Pas Classique" ]
  From Quiz: Famous Ballet Solos and Pas de Deux
17 This is a jump in which the dancer rises low off of the floor and the two feet are brought together in the air before the dancer lands in fifth position.
Answer: assemble

A jete is a type of jump in which the weight of the body is thrown from one foot onto the other, so that is obviously not the answer. In a barrel turn, the danseur travels in a circle and executes a series of turns in the air - while he is aloft, the arms and legs are fully extended.
    Your options: [ jete ] [ grand jete ] [ barrel turn ] [ assemble ]
  From Quiz: Basic Ballet Terms
18 Lise, Alain, Thomas, Colas, Widow Simone
Answer: La Fille Mal Gardee

In some versions of the ballet, Colas is called Colin. Lise is also referred to by the pet name Lisette.
    Your options: [ La Fille Mal Gardee ] [ Afternoon of a Faun ] [ The Rite of Spring ] [ La Spectre de La Rose ]
  From Quiz: Identify The Ballet From Its Characters
19 In the world of court ballets, what was a libretto?
Answer: A printed explanation of the ballet and copy of the verses sung in the works.

Court ballets were often based on literary works, so the librettos distributed among the audience were meant to aid in the audience's understanding of the work. Sort of an early version of today's stage bills.
  From Quiz: 16th and 17th Century Dance
20 In what country does "The Fountain of Bakhchisarai" begin?
Answer: Poland

This "choreographic poem" (haha) is based on a poem by Alexander Pushkin, who based it on a real event. The Tartars invade Poland and capture a princess named Maria, who plays the harp. The harp comes with her. The Tartar king, Khan Girey, falls in love with her and kills her husband and takes her with him. His mistress, Zarema, hates Maria because Girey is more interested in her. So Zarema stabs Maria in the back and she dies. Khan Girey orders Zarema to be killed, which she is, and then, overcome with grief, has the Fountain of Tears built because after all, he really did love Maria. Sad.
  From Quiz: Russian Ballets
21 The scene changes to Spain, where I'm a background dancer. However, I seem to have more stage time than the title character, a strange man who attacks a building and dreams of fairies. Who is he?
Answer: Don Quixote

Despite being the title character, Don Quixote doesn't figure into the story very much. The main conflict comes from Kitri being in love with Basilio while her father wants her to marry the nobleman Gamache. Don Quixote sees Kitri as his Dulcinea, but she marries Basilio.
  From Quiz: Once More, I'm Trapped in a Ballet!
22 I've now been zapped into a ballet where I'm one of many girls surrounding another girl. She gets to be the sacrifice--lucky her!
Answer: The Rite of Spring

Stravinsky's "The Rite of Spring" is played more in concert halls than as a ballet. The original choreography notes by Nijinsky have been lost, but the Joffrey Ballet have mostly reconstructed the steps. The ballet is about half an hour long and details the dances of a primitive tribe before a girl is sacrificed. She dances herself to death.
    Your options: [ Orpheus ] [ La Esmeralda ] [ The Red Poppy ] [ The Rite of Spring ]
  From Quiz: I'm Trapped in a Ballet Again!
23 I've been transported into another fairy tale ballet. I hear Prokofiev's score as I dance barefoot with a broom after watching my step-sisters take a dance lesson. In what ballet am I dancing the lead role?
Answer: Cinderella

In this version of the story, Cinderella shows kindness to an old beggar woman by giving her something, like food, a place by the fire, or her only pair of shoes (it changes depending on the production). The woman is taken with the kindness and reveals herself as the Fairy Godmother, who rewards Cinderella by sending her to the ball, where she meets her prince. The stepsisters, who are sometimes played by men, act as comic relief. Near the end of the show, the stepmother tries on the slipper, too! Of course, it doesn't fit.
  From Quiz: I'm Trapped in a Ballet!
24 In which ballet do Carabosse and the Lilac Fairy use mime to set up the story?
Answer: The Sleeping Beauty

Carabosse is upset about not being invited to Aurora's christening, so curses her to die when picking her finger on a spindle. The Lilac Fairy, who hasn't given her gift yet, changes the curse to make Aurora sleep for 100 years. After these years, the Lilac Fairy finds a prince to kiss Aurora and awaken her.
    Your options: [ La Bayadere ] [ The Firebird ] [ A Midsummer Night's Dream ] [ The Sleeping Beauty ]
  From Quiz: Ballet Mime
25 'Swan Lake' premiered in 1877 in what city?
Answer: Moscow

The premier was on 20 February, 1877 (or 4 March, using the calendar of the time) at the Moscow Imperial Bolshoi Theatre. The choreography for this production was by Julius Reisinger, the director of the Bolshoi. This was a benefit performance for Pelageya Karpakova, who danced the role of Odette (and probably Odile, but that is not recorded). The part of Siegfried was taken by the company's lead dancer, Victor Gillert.
  From Quiz: Swan Lake
26 Despite a thoroughly musical upbringing, Stravinsky went on to study law at the University of Saint Petersburg. However, he was unable to take his final examinations in 1905 as the university was temporarily closed in the aftermath of which event?
Answer: Bloody Sunday

Bloody Sunday is seen as one of the major events in the build up to the Russian Revolution in 1917. It occurred on Sunday 22nd January 1905 when peaceful demonstrators approaching the Winter Palace were fired on by members of the Imperial Guard. Over 3000 people were gathering from several directions to present a petition to Tsar Nicholas II; after the guards opened fire, it is estimated that around 1000 were killed or injured (estimates vary from the government's 96 dead to anti-government protesters' 'over 4000'). The actions of the Imperial Guard severely undermined public confidence in the Tsarist regime.

Black Tuesday typically refers to the Wall Street Crash of 1929, Sweet Thursday is the title of a 1954 John Steinbeck novel and Manic Monday is a 1986 single by The Bangles from their album 'Different Light'.

Stravinsky enrolled at the University of St Petersburg in 1901, and in the summer of 1902 he stayed with Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov in Heidelberg in Germany. Rimsky-Korsakov encouraged him to pursue music and, after Bloody Sunday in 1905, he began twice weekly lessons with Rimsky-Korsakov as his tutor. The lessons continued until Rimsky-Korsakov's death in 1908. It is said that during this time Stravinsky came to regard him as a second father, his own having passed away in late 1902.
    Your options: [ Black Tuesday ] [ Sweet Thursday ] [ Manic Monday ] [ Bloody Sunday ]
  From Quiz: The Riot of Spring
27 The ballet by Tchaikovsky tells the story of a princess. What is the princess' name?
Answer: Odette

Odette is a beautiful princess who is turned into a swan by an evil curse, put in place by a sorcerer. She is a swan in the day, but turns back into a human at night. She is not the only one under the spell - all of the other 'swan people' have made her the 'Swan Queen'. She is destined to stay a swan for eternity unless the power of eternal love breaks the spell - this eternal love is between Odette and her lover. If he ever stops being faithful to her, she will be a swan forever.
  From Quiz: History of 'Swan Lake'
28 What is the literal translation of frappe?
Answer: Strike

You want to flex your foot in sur le-cou-de-pied position. To frappe devant, you strike (hense the literal translation, strike) the ball of your foot to the floor and then point. You then put your foot back in sur le-cou-de-pied position with your foot flexed.
  From Quiz: Ballet Terms: Literal Translations
29 Where was "The Nutcracker" ballet first performed?
Answer: Mariinsky Theatre, Saint Petersburg

Many of the world's prominent ballet dancers have performed at the Mariinsky including Anna Pavlova and Mikhail Baryshnikov.
  From Quiz: Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker
30 Which King Louis popularized ballet in France?
Answer: Louis XIV

Louis XIV was also known as the "Sun King" for his role in "Le Ballet de la Nuit".
    Your options: [ Louis XII ] [ Louis XVI ] [ Louis XIV ] [ Louis XV ]
  From Quiz: The History of Ballet
31 In the ballet "Giselle", who are the Wilis?
Answer: Female spirits

Led by their queen Myrtha, Wilis are cruel female spirits who force unfortunate men to dance until they die.
  From Quiz: So You Think You Know the Ballets?
32 What year was the ballet "La Bayadere" first performed?
Answer: 1877

The ballet took approximately six months to put together and has been staged many times since. Most of the productions staged today are very different from the original as much of the music was thought lost. The 2000 Kirov/Maryinsky production is the closest to the original after they found the original score in the theatre library.
  From Quiz: "La Bayadere" Ballet
33 What holiday season is "The Nutcracker" usually associated with?
Answer: Christmas

Taking place on Christmas Eve and telling the story of some wonderful presents come to life, "The Nutcracker" has become a traditional Christmas event.
  From Quiz: The Nutcracker
34 Who first established the famous Ballet Russes?
Answer: Serge Diaghilev

Serge was a Russian art critic, born in Selischi on March 31, 1872. He mounted a huge art exhibition in St Petersburg, showcasing portraits he discovered on a year long tour around Russia. He went to Paris in 1908 and presented music performances, as well as also presenting a production of the opera "Boris Godunov". In 1909 he was invited to return to Paris to produce more ballet and opera, which is when he founded the Ballet Russes. The company was founded in Paris, and later moved to Monte Carlo. All of the original dancers in the company were taken from the Imperial Ballet. The company ended in 1929, concurrent with the death of Serge Diaghilev, but was revived four years later in 1933 as the Ballet Russe De Monte Carlo. The company operated until bankruptcy in 1968 brought a final end to a huge part of ballet history.
  From Quiz: Ballet - General
35 What ballet movement means 'Step Of The Cat'?
Answer: Pas De Chat

A 'Pas De Chat' means 'Step Of The Cat' because you lift your downstage leg up to your knee in a jump , your upstage follows creating a light, jumpy movement. You learn 'Pas De Chats' from the age of 9-11.
  From Quiz: The Ultimate Ballet Quiz!
36 Which famous role did Cecchetti create?
Answer: Bluebird in "Sleeping Beauty"

The role of the Bluebird is short (Cecchetti was never a premier danseur) but impressive. It features soaring leaps and brilliant footwork. The other roles were all created by Nijinsky, who was one of Cecchetti's students. Cecchetti continued as a dancer, mainly in character roles, into his sixties.
    Your options: [ Rose in "Le Spectre de la Rose" ] [ Faun in "L'après-midi d'un Faune" ] [ Bluebird in "Sleeping Beauty" ] [ Daphnis in "Daphnis and Chloé" ]
  From Quiz: A Ballet Class with Maestro Cecchetti
37 Why was Gaetano Vestris dismissed from his position as "danseur seul" at the Paris Opera in 1754?
Answer: He rushed at the maitre de ballet with a sword

The maitre de ballet, J.B. Lany, was having an affair with Gaetano's sister Therese, who was also a dancer.
  From Quiz: Eighteenth Century Dance
38 The first great ballet of the Romantic period was "La Sylphide". However, two different versions of this ballet were created, each with different music. In what years were these versions created?
Answer: 1832 and 1836

The 1832 version was choreographed by Filipo Taglioni to music by Scheitzhoffer, and debuted in Paris with Marie Taglioni (Filipo's daughter) dancing the lead role. The 1836 version was choreographed by Bournonville to music by Lovenskjold for the Royal Danish Ballet, and debuted in Copenhagen with Lucille Grahn in the lead. This second version is the one most people are familiar with today.
  From Quiz: Ballet in the Nineteenth Century
39 This is a movement in which the dancer raises one leg to the front, back, or side and then jumps with the supporting leg, bringing it up to beat under the other.
Answer: cabriole

A fouette is a pirouette in which one leg whips out to the side in a rond de jambe, then in to the knee of the other leg. An entrechat is a type of jump in which the dancer leaps straight into the air from plie, the feet beating or crossing a number of times. A gargouillade is a jump resembling the pas de chat, except that during the course of it, each leg executes a rond de jamb.
    Your options: [ fouette ] [ gargouillade ] [ entrechat ] [ cabriole ]
  From Quiz: Basic Ballet Terms
40 Hagar, Eldest Sister, Youngest Sister, The Man From The House Opposite
Answer: PIllar of Fire

Hagar was first played by Nora Kaye.
    Your options: [ PIllar of Fire ] [ Paquita ] [ Petrouchka ] [ Les Noces ]
  From Quiz: Identify The Ballet From Its Characters
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