The Paris Opera Ballet is the cradle of ballet, tracing the origin of ballet as a theatre art back to its foundation by Louis XIV in 1669. Over more than three centuries, dance has retained its place as a potent element in its repertory in a long sequence of ballets and divertissements that have been presented on a succession of stages, culminating in our time in the Palais Garnier and the Opera Bastille. In 1976, to mark the centenary year of the former of those two theatres, Ivor Guest was commissioned by the Opera to write the history of its ballet, a work which he brought up-to-date in 2002, and which is w presented for the first time in an English edition.
Ivor Guest began his research into the history of ballet more than sixty years ago, and has published more than thirty books on the subject. The ballet of the Paris Opera has remained a special area of study, which over the years has produced, among other works, four volumes that cover the history of that celebrated company in vivid detail, from the moment that ballet became a distinct theatre art in pre-Revolutionary times down to the Second Empire, culminating with the creation of Coppelia. His work has been recognised in France by his appointment as a Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters.