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A balletomane is someone who has a deep appreciation and enthusiasm for ballet. One of the most noted balletomanes in history was Edward Gorey, who attended every single performance of the New York City Ballet for several years in the 1950s. Gorey was so dedicated to ballet that he refused to leave New York City during the ballet season for a number of years specifically because he did not want to miss any ballet performances, an attitude which many balletomanes would sympathize with.
This term is derived from the French word “ballet” and the Greek manes, which means “ardent admirer.” It was coined in the 19th century to describe ardent fans of the Russian ballet. At first, the term was meant to imply a certain amount of mania, with balletomanes supporting specific artists with an almost alarming level of fervor, sometimes coming to blows over performances. Bitter debates between balletomanes seemed comical to outsiders, who simply couldn't comprehend the level of devotion involved.
In the 20th century, “balletomane” began to acquire less extreme connotations, and it came to be used more generally to describe someone who really enjoys ballet. In addition to seeing a number of ballet performances each year, a balletomane is also typically very well informed about the art of ballet, and he or she keeps up with major artists in the field. Many follow specific ballet companies, sometimes traveling to see them on tour, and balletomanes can often rattle off statistics about the roster of dancers in a particular company.
A balletomane may also appreciate other forms of dance, but usually ballet is the first love. Many are enthusiastic about the history of ballet and the development of the art, and those with money often donate generously to ballet companies and programs to spread ballet. Season tickets to a local ballet company are a must for a balletomane, and balletomanes can often be seen clustered in the lobby during intermissions to discuss the performance.
In addition to being knowledgeable about dancers, and sometimes directly acquainted with them, balletomanes also enjoy the music, costumes, sets, and lighting associated with ballet. Some may collect visual materials related to famous ballet companies, such as coffeetable books which feature stunning ballet sets, or recordings of notable orchestras performing music composed for the ballet. Balletomanes are also eager to share their collection and love for ballet with others, in most cases.