History of Cecchetti
MAESTRO ENRICO CECCHETTI
Enrico Cecchetti was born on 21 June 1850 in a dressing room of the Tordinona Theatre in Rome, Italy. He was the son of dancing parents and is famed as a brilliant virtuoso dancer, an expert mime artist and the greatest teacher of his time – best known for his contributions to the Classical Technique.
During a dancing career spanning more than 30 years, Enrico Cecchetti performed extensively in countries such as the United States, England, Denmark, Norway, Germany and Russia. He created the dual roles of Carabosse and the Bluebird in “The Sleeping Beauty” and was considered to have revolutionised the image of the male dancer in Russia in the last two decades of the nineteenth century.
In 1887 Cecchetti was appointed second ballet master of the Imperial Russian Ballet and in 1892 assumed the position of teacher of the Imperial School of Dancing in St. Petersburg. He became ballet master of the Imperial Dance School, Warsaw in 1902 and thereafter joined Serge Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes as teacher and ballet master.
The Maestro’s influence was significant and he worked with renowned dancers and choreographers such as Mathilda Kchessinska, Olga Preobrajenska, Anna Pavolva (whom he taught privately from 1907 to 1910), Tamara Karsavina, Michael Fokine, Adolf Bolm, George Balanchine, Vaslav Nijinsky and Leonide Massine.
In 1918 Cecchetti began to tire of travel and together with his wife established a school in London at 160 Shaftesbury Avenue. His training was fundamental to the works of Ninette de Valois, Marie Rambert, Frederick Ashton and Antony Tudor and still is recognisable in works by David Bintley and other contemporary ballet choreographers. Alicia Markova was one of his many students.
Cecchetti returned to Italy and in 1925, at the request of the conductor Arturo Toscanini, directed the ballet school of La Scala Theatre in Milan where he had danced fifty-five years earlier. Here he taught Serge Lifar who would become a leading figure in the evolution of modern French ballet. Enrico Cecchetti died in harness, teaching at La Scala, Milan, in his native Italy in 1928 – leaving His legacy to the Dance – his method of Training.
The Cecchetti method was codified and published in 1922.
Writer and publisher, Cyril Beaumont, codified the Cecchetti technique and published it as A Manual of the Theory and Practice of Classical Theatrical Dancing.
Beaumont also promoted the formation of the Cecchetti Society in England in 1922 and sent Margaret Craske, a pupil of Cecchetti’s, to open the South African branch in 1928, 2018 marking the 90th Anniversary of the Cecchetti Society in Southern Africa.
Brillarelli, Livia: Cecchetti, a Ballet Dynasty
Beaumont, Cyril W: Enrico Cecchetti: His Legacy to the Dance
Wilson, G.B.L.: A Dictionary of Ballet