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Enrico Cecchetti Today
4 September 2014

Printable version / Version imprimable   |  1864 visits / visites

London and Paris, August 2014

Muriel Valtat and Julie Cronshaw have just finished filming Enrico Cecchetti’s Six days of the Week, the Underlying Principles

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

First of all, thanks to our partnership with the Centre de danse du Marais and to donations from several dozen private citizens, the Société Auguste Vestris was able to bring Lauren Anderson to France in March 2014 as planned. Her teaching tour was such a success that she is expected back for another week in February 2015. An article concerning her tour in March 2014, and the full accompanying brochure in French (downloadable .pdf format) are available on the following page (please click here).

What Rabbit has just been pulled out of the Vestris Hat?

Stage One of the Enrico Cecchetti project, in this month of August 2014, the Société Auguste Vestris.

For several years now, Julie Cronshaw and the Vestris Board have been attempting to find a professional dancer well-acquainted with Enrico Cecchetti’s Method and who would agree to make an educational film designed to illustrate, not the Syllabus Work as such, but the Principles behind the Six Days of the Week.

What is so special about Enrico Cecchetti?

The Cecchetti Method relies on skill in the dancer, rather than on his being possessed of exceptional physical qualities. In French, the notion is known as “adresse”. In a nutshell, Cecchetti demands three things: a technique that it is no exaggeration to call transcendental, mastery of a vast vocabulary, including many steps that have practically disappeared owing to their arduous nature, and a thoroughly cultivated and secure artistic judgment. Once understood, his Method regenerates the dancer’s mind and body rather than devouring it, and affords choreographers a virtually-boundless well of inspiration.

Why has it taken so long to start filming?

In 1941 or 42, Leonid Massine (himself a disciple of Cecchetti), desirous of preserving on film the dancing of Cecchetti’s last private pupil, the great Vincenzo Celli, made a black-and-white film in a New York studio of Celli dancing alongside a Mystery Ballerina whose technique must be seen to be believed. That film was shown to us by Professor Diane Carney of New Orleans, a disciple of Celli.

Unfortunately, however, lacking a sound-track and ravaged by time, Massine’s priceless film cannot be put to more general pedagogical purposes. A new tack had to be taken.

Until the first week of June 2014, our search for an artist not merely willing, but able, had proven vain, since Cecchetti’s method is taught to a professional level in but a few schools world over.

What is more, we were looking for an individual with theatrical experience, mature enough to grasp the underlying principles, since the film is designed, NOT to set out a lesson-programme for preparing the Enrico Cecchetti Diploma (“the Syllabus”), but to simply show how, and why, Cecchetti’s Method actually works.

Serendipity! Out of the blue, a ballerina who knows the Method agreed to roll up her proverbial sleeves, and take up the challenge. That ballerina is Muriel Valtat, originally trained by Yvonne Cartier, RAD Solo Seal, Enrico Cecchetti Diploma, former First Soloist of the Royal Ballet, now professor at the Ecole supérieure de Danse du Québec.

On the spur of the moment, the decision was taken to film in August 2014. The quiet church hall at MovingEast’s studios in Stoke Newington, a talented young film-maker who has studied classical dance, and a pianist with real feeling for the work were found.

Over six days (August 12th to 17th), the film has now been made!

What else will the film offer?

Pointe work: Miss Cronshaw’s student Madeline Ciokajlo-Squire, now with Scottish Ballet, illustrates the principle of the sbalzo, the snatch or little jump onto pointe, and its relation to the all-important line of aplomb and to mastering Cecchetti’s virtuosic pirouettes and diagonales.

There are also interviews with Muriel Valtat, Julie Cronshaw, the film-maker George Massey and our pianist, Morta Grigaliunaite.

And expect a few surprises. Stay tuned.

What will be done with the films?

Once edited, the films are to be made available to the dance world via a dedicated Youtube channel called The CecchettiConnection. The films are to be posted by segments of circa fifteen minutes, each corresponding to one Day of the Week, along with a commentary designed for students and professional dancers.

Finally, one should stress that the endeavour, which has already meant several weeks’ unremunerated work by all concerned, is educational and strictly non-profit.

All this to say, we need your help to get the project off the ground and flying.

What is the budget?

The total budget works out at roughly 6300 euro, and breaks down thusly:

  • Travel expenses for the artists: circa 900 euro
  • Artists’ Fees: circa 2300 euro
  • Studio hire (five hours a day for six days): circa 600 euro
  • Cutting and editing the film: a minimum of 2500 euro

At the time of writing, the Société Auguste Vestris has itself put up roughly 2000 euro; to push the entire project through, sponsors for the remainder must be found.

What is the next step?

In July or August 2015, we would like to film the Cecchetti enchaînements best suited to the man’s technique. If you are a very able male professional, and wish to take part, please contact us immediately.

What can I do to make sure the film comes out?

If you would like to contribute, please either donate directly on the HelloAsso Website,

OR forward your donations by cheque drawn on a French bank, to the Société Auguste Vestris at the following address,

Société Auguste Vestris
Maison des Associations, Boîte à Lettres 75
206 Quai de Valmy, 75010 Paris

Alternatively, by bank transfer, to the IBAN address:

Société Auguste Vestris
FR76 4255 9000 0341 0200 1802 332
BIC Code CCOPFRPPXXX
Crédit coopératif (Agence Gare de l’Est)
CS 60019, 102 Boulevard Magenta, 75479 Paris cedex 10

All those who donate over 100 euros will receive the fully-edited film (Copyright: Société Auguste Vestris), once ready, in DVD form. To that purpose, please send over your full street address. (For Americans: it will have to be read on a computer as we lack the means to cut separate US and European-format DVDs.)

Thank you for your generosity, which will help us ensure that this treasure of art live on!

The Board of “Vestris” would like to thank the Cecchetti specialist Suzanne Plante of Montreal, for her role in making this event possible.

KL Harriet KanterJulie Cronshaw (FISTD)
Chairman, Société Auguste Vestris Member of the Board