The Cecchetti (pronounced che-ketty) Method of training was developed in the late 19th Century by Enrico Cecchetti, who is recognised as one of the most influential ballet teachers of all time and a crucial influence on the foundations of modern classical ballet training. The method of training remains as relevant today as it was when first created – producing outstanding artistic and technically accomplished dancers able to work with today’s directors across a spectrum of ballet and contemporary companies.
Enrico Cecchetti was born the son of two dancers, in Italy in 1850. He migrated to St. Petersburg where he joined the Imperial Russian Ballet as a dancer and created the virtuoso role of the Bluebird and the mime role of Carabosse in the première of The Sleeping Beauty in 1890. In Russia, he taught Maryinsky dancers including Anna Pavlova, Tamara Karsarvina and Vaslav Nijinsky. In 1909 he joined Diaghilev’s ’Ballet Russe’ as a teacher and mime artist, and in 1918, Cecchetti settled in London, opening a school, which laid the groundwork for the formation of The Royal Ballet.
Recognised as the greatest teacher of his day, his pupils included Alicia Markova, Ninette de Valois, Marie Rambert and Léonide Massine. Cecchetti (often referred to as ‘the Maestro’) had trained under Giovanni Lepri (a pupil of Carlo Blasis) and developed his training method by grouping the classical vocabulary into six sets of exercises, one for each day of the working week. This work was recorded and published in 1922 by Cyril Beaumont, a world renowned dance historian: The Manual of Theory and Practice of Classical Theatrical Dancing (Cecchetti Method) remains a crucial source of information on technique, stance, positions of arms, feet, legs, hands, body, head, port de bras and adages.
One of the most important links to Cecchetti has been through the works of choreographer Sir Frederick Ashton:
“If I had my way, I would always insist that all dancers should daily do the wonderful Cecchetti port de bras. It inculcates a wonderful feeling for line and correct positioning and the use of head movement and epaulement, which — if properly absorbed — will be of incalculable use throughout a dancer’s career.”
The continuing importance and value of this Method is summed up by Dame Darcey Bussell DBE, formerly of the Royal Ballet Company and patron of the Cecchetti Society:
” The Cecchetti work has given me strength, discipline and co-ordination. It wasn’t until I got into the Company that I realised how lucky I was to have had that training.”
The Cecchetti Society
In 1924 the Cecchetti Society became affiliated to the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing.
Cornwall is lucky to have several ballet schools training dancers with the Cecchetti Method. These schools are proudly providing excellent training – guiding children through vocational exams, dance festivals and performances and supporting Cornwall’s own youth ballet company, Duchy Ballet, with many past students going on to train and work professionally.