Maestro Enrico Cecchetti
Enrico Cecchetti was the most famous ballet teacher of his time, in the first quarter of the twentieth Century.
His heritage links directly to Carlo Blasis who codified classical ballet in 1820.
Cecchetti trained under the ballet master Giovanni Lepri. He became a virtuoso dancer reknowned throughout Europe and eventually also with the Imperial Russian Ballet. The role of the Blue Bird in The Sleeping Beauty was one role created on him and which he performed at the Maryinsky as well as performing the mime role of the evil fairy Carabosse in the same performance..
After his performing career ended Cecchetti developed his own ballet method and taught at the Imperial School in St. Petersburg from 1887. When Diaghilev wanted his company Ballets Russes to tour, he hired Enrico for the dual roles of ballet master and mime and Cecchetti moved to Paris first and then to London where he set up his own school in 1918.
Cecchetti's presence in the Diaghilev Ballets Russes company was very important. He was the link between the past and the present, contributing to the birth of modern classical ballet. In addition to Cecchetti and the dancers he coached such as Tamara Karsavina, Vaclav Nijinsky, Lydia Lopokova,Olga Preobajenska, Julie Sedowa and others, many other artists worked with the company: painters, set and costume designers Bakst, Picasso, Cocteau, and Matisse; composers Debussy, De Falla, Prokofiev, Ravel, and Stravinsky. The Ballets Russes toured through Europe, the United States, South America, and Australia.
Anna Pavlova, who had worked privately with him from 1906-1909, continued to work with him when she was home from tours at Ivy house in Golders Green. They remained life-long friends.
Considered the technical lodestar of the ballet world, it was said that no one could become a finished ballet dancer without passing through Cecchetti's hands. In 1923, he returned to Italy to retire but was invited by Arturo Toscanini to resume his teaching career at La Scala in 1925, his lifelong dream. While teaching a class, Cecchetti collapsed and was taken home, where he died the following day, November 13, 1928.
Other famous Cecchetti pupils were Ninette de Valois (founder of the Royal Ballet Schools and the Royal Ballet Company) Sir Frederick Ashton (Choreographer for the Royal Ballet), the dancers Dame Alicia Markova (founder English National Ballet), Marie Rambert (founder of Rambert Dance Company), George Balanchine (New York City Ballet); Dame Peggy Van Praagh (Australian Ballet), Serge Lifar (Paris Opera) and pupils who worked later in the USA included, Vincenzo Celli, Luigi Albertieri, and Gisela Caccialanza (San Francisco Ballet) to name but a few!
His method survived through these pupils and is now taught to younger generations.