Enrico Cecchetti

Maestro Cecchetti

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

Cecchetti was trained under Lepri, a pupil of the great Carlo Blasis who codified the technique of classical ballet in 1820. Blasis' 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.

Cecchetti and British Ballet

Darcey Bussell

Darcey Bussell O.B.E.

"The Cecchetti work has given me strength, discipline and co-ordination. It wasn't until I got into the Royal Ballet Company that I realized how lucky I was to have had that training."

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."

Cecchetti's work was taken over by Margaret Craske, who taught a whole generation of British dancers. 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 expressed his admiration for the Cecchetti method as follows: " A sound training such as one receives through the method of Maestro Cecchetti, embodying as it does a complete and pure theory of movement, awakens within the dancer a response to any style they may be called upon to interpret - and this is surely the ultimate aim of every true artist. 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 épaulement,which - if properly absorbed - will be of incalculable use throughout a dancer's career".

The Cecchetti Society
Classical Ballet Faculty of the ISTD

Patrons: Dame Alicia Markova D.B.E.
Lesley Collier C.B.E., Monica Mason and Nadia Nerina


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's work. In 1924 the Cecchetti Society became affiliated to the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing (ISTD) which was founded in 1904.


In order to meet the needs of the young child, at both pre-vocational and recreational levels, as well as those of the vocational student, the Cecchetti Society Classical Ballet Faculty has evolved a series of graded examinations. These have now been expanded to include Performance Awards to encourage this aspect of the children's work. Their value lies in giving pupils and teachers a specific goal to work towards at a particular stage in training, and a sense of accomplishment in achieving that goal.

There are special qualifying examinations for teachers, granting FDI and CDE in Dance, Licentiate and Fellowship status in the ISTD. These too have their basis in the executant examinations, requiring in addition a detailed knowledge and understanding of the fundamental approach to teaching, including the musical, anatomical and historical aspects of dance.

PrimaryCovers the basic movements for our youngest children
Standard Examinations 1-6
and Senior Standard 7
Standard examinations are taken by groups accompanied by their teacher. They are therefore more suitable for pupils doing only one class a week and those doing recreational dance.
Grade Examinations 1-6These are taken in small groups without an accompanying teacher. Candidates are therefore expected to have a much higher knowledge of the syllabus. They are the preparation for the Vocational Graded Exams.
Vocational Graded ExaminationsFor pupils wishing to pursue a career in dance these examination form the basis for their future career


As a faculty of the Imperial Society, the Cecchetti Society makes an important contribution to the annual ISTD Congress. Other courses and classes for teachers and dancers are organised both in London and throughout the country.

Guest teachers and examiners from Britain participate regularly in courses organised by overseas branches. The Society's summer schools cater respectively for the differing needs of the young child. Other activities include an annual choreographic competition, the Mabel Ryan awards and various other competitions for children.

There are a number of Cecchetti scholarships and awards designed to help young dancers training professionally and the Society also sponsors Scholarship classes for talented pupils not in vocational schools.

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