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Ballet is a specific dance form and technique. Works of dance choreographed using this technique are called ballets, and may include dance, mime, acting, and music (orchestral and sung). Ballets can be performed alone or as part of an opera. Ballet is best known for its virtuoso techniques such as pointe work, grand pas de deux, and high leg extensions. Many ballet techniques bear a striking similarity to fencing positions and footwork, perhaps due to their development during the same periods of history; but more likely because both arts had similar requirements in terms of balance and movement.

Domenico da Piacenza (1390–1470) is credited with the first use of the term ballo (in De Arte Saltandi et Choreas Ducendi) instead of danza (dance) for his baletti or balli which later came to be known as Ballets. The first Ballet per se is considered to be Balthasar de Beaujoyeulx's Ballet Comique de la Royne (1581) and was a ballet comique (ballet drama). 1581 also saw the publication of Fabritio Caroso's Il Ballarino, a technical manual on ballet dancing that helped to establish Italy as a major centre of ballet development.

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