Beautiful lines, beautiful shapes, beautiful costumes
Ballet, which stems from the Italian word for dancing, ballare, originated during the Italian Renaissance in the 15th century. When the performance style first began, dancers wore masks, layers upon layers of elaborate clothing and small-heeled shoes. These outfits didn't prove to be very easy to move in, and gradually the style changed to what it is known for today: streamlined costumes, tutus, ballet shoes, and unparalleled precision.
Over time the European tradition spread, and now there are renowned ballet companies based all around the world. Here are some you can explore on Google Arts & Culture.
The Australian Ballet
The Australian Ballet opened with Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake in 1962. The company claims to be the busiest ballet company in the world, giving around 200 performances a year. It's also the only company to have a woman chief conductor.
The Bolshoi Ballet
The Bolshoi Ballet is one of the world's oldest ballet companies, having been founded in 1776. It is also one of the largest, including around 200 dancers - "bolshoi" means "big" in Russian. It has been based at The Bolshoi Theatre since 1825.
English National Ballet
The English National Ballet company was founded in 1950, then known as Festival Ballet. In 1958 they were the first major ballet company to tour to Israel, and due to the high demand for tickets, they performed Giselle in the Ramat-Gan Sports Stadium in order to fit in 18,000 people.
Based in Glasgow, the Scottish Ballet works with strong, classical technique at the root of its pieces. It was the first dance company in Europe to offer live audio descriptions so the visually-impaired could also enjoy the ballet.
The Texas-based Houston Ballet consists of 51 dancers and produces over 75 performances each year. In 1995 they were the first ever full company to be invited to China by the government, where 500 million viewers watched the televised opening-night production of Romeo and Juliet.
Prague National Theatre Ballet
Based in Prague National Theatre, the company has a long history of performing Czech works and international classics since its founding in 1883. It was the first company to stage Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake outside of Russia, and the composer himself attended the premiere.