Actual ballet dances developed in the 1700s by French dancers and choreographers such as Charles Didelot and Jean Dauberval. This was about the same time period in which ballerinas began to dance en pointe in specially strengthened shoes.
In Russia, Peter the Great decided to begin to evolve the arts in his country during the end of the 17th century. Artists from other countries were invited to Russia at this time to help modernize the country.
Jean Baptiste Lande was one of the first instructors of ballet and brought his students to Russia to perform for the Empress Anna. The students put on such a spectacle for the Empress that she decided to start a ballet school in Russia in 1738. This school was known as the Imperial Ballet School in St. Petersburg, and later became known as the Vaganova Academy under the direction of Agrippina Vaganova. Catherine the Great also started a ballet school at an orphanage in Moscow in the late 1700s.