This title presents a fascinating history of classical ballet which takes us from its origins in 18th century France through the Italian influence in the 19th century, the dominance of Russia in the late 19th and early 20th century, up to the present and ballet's uncertain future. It begins in the courts of old Europe, where ballet began as an aristocratic etiquette and moved from Italy and France to Britain, Denmark, Russia and contemporary America. Homans argues that the evolution of steps, technique and choreography can only be understood in light of the great political and intellectual movements of the past 200 years. Homans shows how dance and dancers were influenced by the Renaissance and French Classicism, by Revolution and Romanticism, by Expressionism and Bolshevism, Modernism and the Cold War. Her book ends with the contemporary crisis in ballet now that 'the masters are dead and gone' and offers a passionate plea for the centrality of classical dance in our civilization.