Cecchetti Heritage

Enrico Cecchetti was one of the most important influences on the foundations of modern Classical Ballet training.  He evolved a method of training that is as relevant today as it was when he first created it - producing outstanding artistic and technically accomplished dancers able to work with today’s directors across a spectrum of ballet and contemporary companies.  His influence on British Ballet has been far reaching and resulted in the creation of the Cecchetti Society

If I had my way, I would always insist that dancers should daily do the wonderful Cecchetti Port de Bras
— Sir Frederick Ashton

21ST JUNE 1850 - 12TH NOVEMBER 1928

Enrico Cecchetti was born in Italy in 1850. At the height of his career, he emigrated to St. Petersburg, where he joined the Imperial Russian Ballet and created the virtuoso role of The Bluebird and the mime role of Carabosse in the premiere of The Sleeping Beauty, in 1890. He also taught many Maryinsky dancers, including Pavlova, Karsavina and Nijinsky. In 1909 he joined Diaghilev's Ballet Russes as a teacher and mime artist. Here his pupils included Alicia Markova, Ninette de Valois, Marie Rambert and Leonide Massine.

Cecchetti had trained under Lepri, a pupil of the great Carlo Blasis who codified the technique of classical ballet in 1820. His ideas were developed further by Cecchetti who grouped 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, assisted by Idzikowski and Cecchetti himself; further volumes were compiled by, Margaret Craske and Derra de Moroda.

The Cecchetti Society

It was at the instigation of Cyril Beaumont, writer, ballet historian and critic, that the Cecchetti Society was founded in 1922, to preserve and promote the Maestro Enrico Cecchetti's work. In 1924 the Cecchetti Society became affiliated to the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing (ISTD), founded in 1904. The first committee comprised such luminaires as Cyril Beaumont, Margaret Craske, Jane Forrester, Molly Lake, Derra de Moroda, Marie Rambert and Ninette de Valois. Maestro Cecchetti was President and Madame Cecchetti was Vice President.  The Cecchetti Society is now the Cecchetti Society Calssical Ballet Faculty of the ISTD.

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British Ballet and Cecchetti

Ninette de Valois and Marie Rambert, the two architects of twentieth century British ballet, both studied extensively with Cecchetti.  Rambert has called him "the greatest teacher of his generation" while de Valois has written that "Maestro Cecchetti left a great imprint on the English School and was my exclusive teacher for four years. The important aspects of his teaching will remain a part of the academic tradition of our English ballet."

When Cecchetti retired from his studio in London his work was handed down through his disciple, Margaret Craske, to a whole generation of British artists. Many of these were to spread his method abroad where it has become an integral part of the work of many major companies and schools all over the world.

Most notable amongst Rambert and Craske's many famous pupils, and the most important link through them to Cecchetti, was Sir Frederick Ashton. He wrote: "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."