2 3 Throwback Thursday and Enrico Cecchetti | Ballet Webb

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Throwback Thursday and Enrico Cecchetti

Throwback Thursday and Enrico Cecchetti

Born in Rome on the 21st of June in 1850, Enrico Cecchetti was the founder of the Cecchetti method of ballet training. He was the son of two dancers and was born in a dressing room of the Teatro Tordinona Theatre. He made his stage debut early: as an infant in his father’s arms.

Not surprisingly, his parents didn’t want him to become a dancer. Instead they favored a career in business or law. But Cecchetti wanted to be a dancer, and eventually his parents relented. He was sent to study with Giovanni Lepri. He also trained under Cesare Coppini, and Filippo Taglioni. All of his teachers learned their craft from Carlo Blasis, and his theories of ballet education formed the basis of the now well-known Cecchetti method. The dance historian Cyril Beaumont, said this about Cecchetti’s system: “What impressed me most about the Cecchetti method of teaching was the way in which each exercise played a definite and planned part in the student’s technical development. There is nothing haphazard about the system, nothing which depended on the teacher’s mood of the moment. There is a definite plan to daily classes.” 

As a dancer, Cecchetti received rave reviews and was considered one of the finest male dancers of his day. He had extraordinary jumps, and could execute multiple pirouettes. He was soon hired by the Maryinski Ballet and appeared in the role of the Bluebird in Petipa’s Sleeping Beauty in 1890.
He was also the Maitre de Ballet for the Maryinski, teaching at the Imperial School from 1887-1902. From there he went to the Warsaw State School in Poland from 1902-1905. Back in Russia from 1907-1909 he taught and coached Anna Pavlova exclusively until dancers from the Maryinski begged him to open classes to them again.

But it was his collaboration with Diaghilev that changed everything. He was hired to teach and to perform mime roles for the Ballet Russes, and in this role he helped bridge the gap between traditional ballet and the new, emerging modern ballet.

When Cecchetti tired of life on the road he moved to London where he opened a school. In 1923 he returned to Italy to retire, but was coaxed by Arturo Toscanini to teach at La Scala. While teaching a class Cecchetti collapsed. He was taken to his home where he died the next day, November 13, 1928.

From the Big Blue Book of Ballet Secrets:

Dance History Factoid #111:  
“Enrico Cecchetti was a famous Italian dancer and dance master whose system is still used today.”

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Libba Bray

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