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The art of telling a story or describing an emotion without the use of words: the expression of action and feeling through gesture, movement, and facial expression. Classical ballet evolved its own specific language of mime, with a set vocabulary for familiar narrative components: the declaration of love, the desire to marry, the description of female beauty, etc. Several ballets have highly developed mime sequences, most notably Giselle, Swan Lake, and Sleeping Beauty. Although the use of mime was prevalent in 19th-century ballet productions, and indeed was in some cases more important than the dance, contemporary stagings have tended to strip away most of it. During the 20th century Fokine aimed to incorporate mime more organically into the flow of the dancing, and subsequent choreographers have tended to use more naturalistic body language to communicate character and action. Away from the ballet stage, mime forms the basis of much modern visual theatre, with 20th-century mime artists such as Marcel Marceau and Jacques Lecoq having revived an interest in the form and companies like Complicite taking it forward with additional theatrical elements.

Subjects: Performing artsTheatre

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