Maestro Enrico Cecchetti
Why Cecchetti Method?
Maestro Cavalieri Enrico Cecchetti (1850-1928) was considered the greatest ballet teacher of his time. His Method establishes and codifies theoretical principles, encompasses a vast range of steps, movement qualities and dynamics and eliminates technical difficulties addressing any problems through the application of basic physical principles. With careful study it reveals the science behind the art of classical ballet.
How can you recognise a Cecchetti Trained Dancer?
A dancer trained in the Cecchetti Method dances with co-ordination and control, purity of line and can move with astonishing speed or measured lyricism. They are able to change planes and directions without difficulty and always with musicality and a sense of the innate joy of dancing.
Who was Enrico Cecchetti?
Born in a dressing room at the Tordinona theatre in Rome, Italy, into a dancing family, Cecchetti finished his training under the ballet master Giovanni Lepri, a pupil of Carlo Blasis who had codified classical ballet in 1820. Cecchetti’s training combined the purity of technique of the French school combined with the coreodramma technique of the Italian theatre and he became as celebrated for his mime roles as for his virtuosity as a dancer.
Cecchetti toured Italy with his family, and then throughout Europe and Russia in the 1870-80s with his wife, Giuseppina da Maria. They joined the Imperial Russian Ballet in St. Petersburg in 1887. The dual roles of the Blue Bird in The Sleeping Beauty and of the evil fairy Carabosse were created on Cecchetti and he performed both at the premiere of the ballet in 1890, already aged 40.
As his dancing career ended, Cecchetti taught at the Imperial Ballet School in St. Petersburg where he developed his Method for teaching classical ballet according to the ‘Days of the Week’. He became Anna Pavlova’s private coach for three years from 1906-1909. She continued to work with him when she was back from tours at home in London. They remained life-long friends.
What is the Connection with the Ballets Russes and British Ballet?
Diaghilev hired Maestro Cecchetti for the dual roles of ballet master and mime for his company, Les Ballets Russes. Cecchetti later set up his own school in London in 1918 but continued to teach and perform with them for the next 10 years.
Cecchetti’s presence in the Diaghilev company was very important teaching Karsavina, Nijinsky, Fokine, Massine, Lopokova, Preobrajenska (who was Vaganova’s mentor), Sedowa, Kschessinskaya and Woizikowsky, Other famous Cecchetti pupils were Ninette de Valois (founder of the Royal Ballet Schools and the Royal Ballet Company) Dame Alicia Markova (founder English National Ballet), Marie Rambert (Polish born founder of Rambert Dance Company), Dame Peggy Van Praagh (Australian Ballet), Serge Lifar (Paris Opera), Vincenzo Celli, Cia Fornaroli, Margaret Craske and many more.
A Manual of Classical Theatrical Dancing
In 1922 A Method was transcribed by Stanislas Idzikowsky, one of Cecchetti’s Polish pupils and art historian Cyril Beaumont, into a book called ‘A Manual of Classical Theatrical Dancing’ and published in London. It was said that no one could become a finished ballet dancer without passing through Cecchetti’s hands.
Sir Frederick Ashton, Director (from 1963-1970) and choreographer for the Royal Ballet in England and pupil of Nijinska, Rambert and de Valois, was greatly influenced by Cecchetti’s Method and insisted that Company class included Maestro’s daily ports de bras exercises.
How does the Cecchetti Method work?
The Cecchetti Method is based on classes which cover specific steps for each day of the week, rigorously upholding physical and theoretical principals of ‘classical theatrical dancing’,
What happened when Cecchetti died?
In 1923, Cecchetti returned to Italy to retire but was invited by Arturo Toscanini to resume his teaching career at La Scala in 1925, Cecchetti died on November 13, 1928. His Method continued to be taught by his pupils, especially in England and can now be found in discerning ballet schools around the world.
Cyril Beaumont recorded in his Memoir of the Maestro:
“For the present there is none worthy to assume the mantle of Cecchetti. He was one of those great artists who appear not once in a generation but only at rare intervals in the world’s history of the theatre.”