The Cecchetti Method
All pupils at the Harlow Ballet School learn the Cecchetti method of ballet that was created by the great ballet master Enrico Cecchetti. He was born in a dressing room of a theatre in Rome on June 21st, 1850 and performed with his parents from infancy, becoming a virtuoso dancer. In fact it was Cecchetti who created the roles of Bluebird and Carabosse, dancing both to great acclaim in the original Maryinsky production of Sleeping Beauty in 1890.
While performing in Russia, he was engaged as a Premier Danseur and Maitre de Ballet with the Maryinsky Ballet, teaching at the Imperial Ballet School, a post that he filled from 1887 to 1902. After a brief spell of teaching in Warsaw, he returned to St Petersburg, coaching Anna Pavlova, to whom he referred as "the devine Anna", from 1907 to 1909 and resuming his duties at the Maryinsky Theatre.
When Diaghilev wanted his company, the Ballets Russes, to tour, the dancers refused because they would miss their daily classes with Cecchetti! Diaghilev hired Cecchetti as ballet master and mime and he performed many mime roles that were created especially for him. Cecchetti's presence with the Diaghilev Ballets Russes created the link between the past and the present, contributing to the birth of modern clasical ballet. Cecchetti eventually settled in London and established a school that trained a whole generation of dancers who, in turn, went on to found British ballet. Cecchetti returned to Italy in 1923, ostensibly to retire, although he taught at La Scala, thus realising a lifelong dream. He collapsed whilst teaching on November 12th, 1928 and died the following day.
Cecchetti's method of teaching was developed directly from that of the ballet master Carlo Blasis who had codified his teaching methods in the book Traite Elementaire, Technique et Practise de l'Art de la Danse, published in 1820. The Cecchetti method was, in turn, recorded faithfully by his pupils and friends an published as The Manual. It has gone through several editions and is as much the Cecchetti trained dancer's and teacher's "bible" as An Actor Prepares is for Stanislavsky-trained actors. Cecchetti learned from the masters and assimilated and applied the theories that they taught. He established a daily system of classes that develop the body without undue strain or pressure and evolved a method based on balance and harmony. His influence can be seen in Ashton's choreography and in traditional productions of Coppélia, the only remnants of his choreography to survive.
The Harlow Ballet School is proud to continue that noble tradition, passed on from Maestro Cecchetti, through his pupil Stanislav Idzikovsky to the founder of the Harlow Ballet School, Leo Kersley. Leo Kersley's pupils, Michael Branwell and Claire Hickles, pass on these tried and trusted methods for safe and effective teaching. The Harlow Ballet Association performed Coppélia with Cecchetti's choreography in 2002, 2010 and 2016.