Everything that has ever needed to be said about ballet is in this book, keep in mind that it was written 250 years ago; this book is readily available to this day and yet these problems in Ballet are even more prevelent today than in Noverre's time.
2. “Dancing and ballets would undoubtedly take on a new lease on life, if the customs established by a spirit of fear and jealousy did not in some way close the path of glory...”
3. "...renounce the stage, abandon an art for which you are unfitted; adopt a profession or trade where imagination is of no account, with which genius has nothing to do and wherein you have need of arms and hands only... the stage would then be disencumbered of an inestimable quantity of indifferent dancers and bad choreographers, while the blacksmiths trade and others would be supplied with a number of workers much more usefully employed in administering the wants of society, than they can ever be of service in contributing to its amusements and entertainments."
4. “In order to dance well, nothing is so important as the turning outwards of the thigh; and nothing is so natural to men as the contrary position."
5. “The art of disguising old things and giving them an air of novelty is scarcely known.”
6. “The abuse of the best things is always detrimental.”
7. “Some ill-disposed critics, who do not understand enough of the art to judge its different effects.”
8. “True art consists in concealing art.”
9. “It is shameful that dancing should renounce the empire it might assert over the mind and only endeavor to please the sight.”
10. “No one has suspected its(ballet's) power of speaking to the heart.”
11. “A fine picture is but the image of nature; a finished ballet is nature herself.
12. "Great Artists always degrade themselves in wasting their time and genius on low and trivial productions. Great men should only create great things and leave the puerility to those inferior beings who's existence is ever ridiculous"
13. “If our ballets be feeble, monotonous and dull, if they be devoid of ideas, meaning, expression and character, it is less the fault of the art than that of the artist.”
14. “Let us conclude that parents are, or, at least should be the first teachers of their children. How many defects do we not encounter among those confided to our care?”
15. “The majority of choreographers restrict themselves to making a servile copy of a certain number of steps and figures to which the public has been treated for centuries past, revived by a modern composer, differ so little from those of the past that one would imagine they were always the same.”
16. “At our theaters we only see feeble copies of the copies that have proceeded them, renounce that slavish routine which keeps your art in its infancy; examine everything relative to the development of talents; be original; form a style for yourselves based on your private studies; if you must copy, imitate nature, it is a noble model and never misleads those who follow it.”
17. “I cannot avoid condemning all those who, from self-conceit have the pretension to imitate great artists of the past. If their powers of emotion be weak, their powers of expression will be likewise.”
18. “This form of art will not admit of mediocrity.”
19. “ In order that our art may arrive at the degree of the sublime which I demand and hope for it, it is imperative for dancers to divide their time and studies between the mind and the body, and that both become the object of their application; but, unfortunately, all is given to the latter and nothing to the former. The legs are rarely guided by the brain, and, since intelligence and taste do not reside in the feet, one often goes astray. The man of intelligence disappears; there remains nothing but an ill-ordered machine given up to the sterile admiration of fools and just contempt of connoisseurs. Let us study then, let us cease to resemble marionettes, the movements of which are directed by clumsy strings which only amuse and deceive the common herd.”
20. “Applause lavished at a whim and without discernment, often proves the ruin of young people training for a stage career. “
21. “I know that applause if food for the arts, but it ceases to be whole-some if administered indiscriminately; and the nutrition is so rich that, far from strengthening the constitution, it disturbs and enfeebles it. Stage beginners are similar to those children totally spoiled by the blind affection of their parents.”
22. “The defect in wisdom and taste which exists among the majority of dancers is due to the bad education which they generally receive. They apply themselve only to the material side of their art, they learn to jump more of less high, they strive mechanically to execute a number of steps, and like children, who utter a great many words devoid of sense and relation, they execute many phrases of steps devoid of taste and grace.”
23. “a great Italian violinist arrive in Paris, everyone runs after him and no one listens to him; however everyone dubs him a miracle. The ears have not been soothed by his playing, the sounds have not affected the heart; but the eyes have been amused… Applause bursts forth; the arms and fingers deserving of praise; and this numskull of a human machine is accorded what is constantly refused a French violinist who to brilliancy of finger execution unites expression, intelligence, genius and the grace of his art.”
24. “the sole means of achieving ones aim is to make himself a master of the principal defenses and to carry them, because those who are weaker will then only be able to offer a feeble resistance or must themselves surrender.”
25. “I should never conclude were I to speak to you of all the misfortunes which have their origin in the faulty carriage of the body. All these defects, mortifying for those who have contracted them, cannot be remedied except in their early stages. A habit born in childhood is strengthened in youth, becomes deeply rooted in adulthood and is incurable in old age.”
26. “I propose to discuss with you, after having acquainted you with a project born of some reflections of the Academy of Dance, whose establishment has had, in all probability, no other object than that of adoring the decadence of our art and of hastening its downfall.”
27. “No matter the style, the farther one goes the more obstacles increase, and the more distant appears the object it is desired to attain. Again, the most strenuous labor affords the greatest artists but a disquieting gleam which only reveals their inadequacy, while the self-satisfied ignoramus surrounded by the deepest gloom flatters himself that he has nothing more to learn.”
28. “If one were to ask all those who applaud indifferently, and who would think they had wasted the price of admission if they had not stamped their feet or clapped their hands, for their opinion of dancing and ballets, what would be their answers? Marvelous , they would reply, they are wonderfully good, these arts are both agreeable and astonishing. Point out to them that alterations are necessary, that the dancing is indifferent, that expressiveness has been neglected, that pantomime is unknown, that the themes are senseless , that the subjects intended to be expressed are too trivial or too vast, and than there should be a considerable reform in the theater, and you will be regarded as a fool and a maniac. “
29. “It is not a question of skimming the surface of the art, it must be probed to its depths, for to seize upon superficial things only is to degenerate into mediocrity and obscurity.”
30. "You see then that to dance elegantly, to walk gracefully and to carry oneself nobly, it is imperative to reverse the order of things and force the limbs, by means of an exercise both long and painful, to take a totally different position from that which is natural to them."
31. "The defects born of habit are innumerable. I see every child occupied in some way in disarranging and disfiguring his physique; some displace the ankles through the habit they have contracted of standing on one leg only and playing, as it were, with the other; placing it in a position which though disagreeable and strained, does not fatigue them, because the softness of their tendons and muscles lend themselves to all kinds of movement."
32. "Others spoil their knees by the attitudes which they adopt in preference to those which are natural to them. One owing to a habit by which he holds himself obliquely and pushes one shoulder forward, displaces a shoulder blade. Another, repeating at each moment a movement in a cramped position, throws his body all to one side and comes to have one hip larger than the other."