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This essay, which is part of a larger project examining the revival of ballet in France, contextualizes critical responses to the ballet and its dancers within the greater debates and issues of the time concerning gender, athleticism, sexuality and the dancing body. It focuses on the ways in which shifts in gender ideology and attitudes toward the performing body affected the status of ballet and its recovery as a national art form. Ballet reentered the cultural consciousness of Western Europe and gained international allure between 1909 and 1938—a period when notions about the body, athleticism, nationalism, gender, sexuality, politics and the arts were being radically rethought and transformed. In this period, we find critics using ballet as a source through which to assert contemporary notions of gender, modernism and the nation. Through the illustration of shifting attitudes towards the female dancer, this essay reveals how both the transfiguration of gender ideology and new attitudes towards the corporeal body served as vital components in establishing the professionalization of ballet, the artistic legitimacy of its dancers, and, ultimately, the resurrection of a French art.