The Cecchetti Council of America is an organization dedicated to maintaining the standards and method of ballet training established by Cav. Enrico Cecchetti. The organization uses his teaching and writings in a sequence of grades, carefully measured as to degree of difficulty and physical development, and provides a system of accredited examinations to test the student's proficiency within those grades.
As a regional committee we are governed by the Cecchetti Council of America’s Executive Board. The Council is able to administer and advise its committees, establish criteria for teacher participation, and ensure student progress. The Council works to develop informed teaching practices.
The qualifications include a minimum of three years teaching experience, the ability to study with a certified teacher of the method, sponsorship by a CCA member, and successful completion of one teacher's examination. There are certified member teachers throughout the country with whom one may study and obtain the graded syllabus books. To locate a certified member in our Ohio Committee, please refer to the Membership Directory.
Established in 1939 as a committee of the Dancing Masters of Michigan, the CCA based its syllabi on those of the Cecchetti Society Branch of the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing in London, England. Thus from the beginning, friendship and cooperation have characterized the relationship of the two Cecchetti organizations. By the time of its incorporation as a nonprofit educational association in 1951, the Council was the first in the United States to adopt a uniform system of teaching and examinations. Since that time, the CCA has developed outstanding teachers as well as students who have danced professionally in ballet companies across the world. The CCA has joined other Cecchetti organizations from Cecchetti Societies of Australia, Canada, Southern Africa, U.S.A. Inc., and Danzare Cecchetti - ANCEC Italy. As a part of this new global network, the Council continues to ensure quality standards in classical ballet training.
The principal objective of the Cecchetti Council has always been to raise the quality of ballet teaching. This requires consistent attitudes of self-improvement and professional integrity on the part of each member teacher. The Council provides continuing educational opportunities through publications, refresher courses, and ballet conferences. The Council's activities encompass five regions of the United States which are represented by fifteen committees. Committees are also established in Haiti, Jamaica, and Canada.
MEET ENRICO CECCHETTI
Cecchetti taught at the Imperial School in St. Petersburg from 1887-1902, and from 1902-1905 he taught in Poland at the Warsaw State School. Returning to St. Petersburg in 1905, he established a school there. From 1907-1909, he taught Anna Pavlova exclusively until dancers from the Maryinsky pleaded with him to open his classes to them again. When Diaghilev wanted his company, the Ballets Russes, to tour, the dancers refused because they would miss their daily classes with Cecchetti. An astute businessman, Diaghilev hired Enrico for the dual roles of ballet master and mime. Cecchetti performed many mime roles which were created expressly for him by choreographers of the Ballets Russes. Cecchetti's presence in the Diaghilev Ballets Russes was very important. He was the link between the past and the present, contributing to the birth of modern classical ballet.
In addition to Cecchetti and the dancers, many other artists worked with the Diaghilev Ballets Russes: painters, set and costume designers Bakst, Picasso, Cocteau, and Matisse; composers Debussy, De Falla, Prokofiev, Ravel, and Stravinksy. The Ballets Russes toured through Europe, the United States, South America, and Australia. Tired of touring, Cecchetti settled in London, England where he opened a school to which dancers flocked. Considered the technical lodestar of the ballet world, it was said that no one could become a finished ballet dancer without passing through Cecchetti's hands. In 1923, he returned to Italy to retire but was invited by Arturo Toscanini to resume his teaching career at La Scala, his lifelong dream. While teaching a class, Cecchetti collapsed and was taken home where he died the following day, November 13, 1928.
(Information provided by Livia Brillarelli, Dr. Kathleen Tidwell, Shiela Darby, and Rose Marie Floyd)
The Cecchetti Method
It is a rigorous system drawn up with careful regard for the laws of anatomy, and it is designed to endow the human body with all those qualities essential to the dancer...balance, poise, strength, elevation, elasticity, "ballon" and so forth. These qualities are naturally not the monopoly of the Cecchetti Method; they are the ideal of every school of training. But the Cecchetti Method differs from those other schools in the endeavor to reduce the dancer's training to an exact science, by imposing a formula evolved over years of preparing boys and girls of many nationalities to become dancers, to knead and shape their bodies to bear the strains and trails of public appearance and to fit their muscles and tendons and nerves to respond readily to whatever steps and movements might be required of them by the choreographer. Another important feature of the Cecchetti Method is that the student is taught to think of the movement of the foot, leg, arm, and head, not as something apart, but in its relation to the whole body, which develops a definite feeling for line. Again Cecchetti laid down that it is more important to execute and exercise correctly once, than to do it a dozen times carelessly. Quality therefore rather than quantity is the guiding rule. The Cecchetti Method is classic in its purity and clear-cut style; it is classic in its strenuous opposition to all extravagance and fussiness of movement; it is classic in its insistence on the importance of line.