St Hilda's Ballet School
The Cecchetti Method
Initially the method devised by Enrico Cecchetti was designed for advanced students and professional dancers only. Cecchetti acknowledged that dancers and teachers tend to concentrate on the steps they enjoy rather than what they need, so he developed a six-day plan which covered all the basic movements in ballet. This work is still danced in the Advanced Two and Diploma classes.
Monday covered Assembles; Tuesday, Petits Battements; Wednesday, Ronds de Jambe; Thursday, Jetes; Friday, Batterie; and Saturday, Grande Allegro. Barre, port de bras and pirouettes were danced every day. Adages were also choreographed to fit in with the theme of the day. Each movement was incorporated into petit and grand allegro enchainments (exercises) to develop the strength and speed associated with Cecchetti's style.
The port de bras developed by Cecchetti is unique and very special. Sir Frederick Ashton wrote in a letter to Richard Glasstone; "If I had my way, I would always insist that all dancers should daily do the wonderful Cecchetti port de bras, especially beginners. It inculcates a wonderful feeling for line and correct positioning of the use of the head movement and epaulement which, if properly absorbed, will be of incalculable use through a dancer's career" (Kennedy, Notes for a Dancer, 2nd Edition 2006).
With the formation of the Cecchetti Society, proponents of the Method were presented with an unique opportunity to devise an entire syllabus from the Maestro's Method suitable for both children and students. The complex port de bras, adages and allegro exercises were broken down and incorporated into exercises suitable for children. This means that as one progresses through the grades one builds the strength and co-ordination required to tackle the more advanced work. This then flows seamlessly into the Vocational syllabus from Intermediate Foundation to Diploma levels.
Not every child wishes or is able to take these demanding exams and so a parallel system of class exams was developed known as Standards or Class exams. Musicality, expression and enjoyment are prioritised over technique, although certain technical standards must still be met.