As I move on describing my first try outs of the Cecchetti method, I want to remind everybody that my intention is not to become some devoted Cecchetti soldier.
I have already spoken about ballet Ideologies. And I am sustaining this statement until the end of this choreographic research and most likely, the end of my life. (insert dramatical music in here)
I am saying this because I just tried some excercises from his method and found them extremely conforting and fun to do. But since Ballet has history with sexual harrassment, prostitution, child labour and abuse of power I rather constantly clarify that my research about Cecchetti is only about aesthetics and what his vocabulary can bring to my choreographic skills. Because what I will choreograph will not have a Cecchetti label, but only an influence of his aesthetics.
I find it absolutely necessary to clarify this, because the more I try his style, the more I like it, and the more I feel happy about its existance. But if you follow me on social media, or you know me personaly, you might be aware that I have a personal compromise with antiracism, anticlasism, and community feminism (Feminismo Comunitario is the real name in spanish, a decolonial way of feminism). So as a human I am always looking to be coherent within my own personal philosophy and principles, which is something sometimes hard to do when I get tricked by such misleading feelings like happiness.
Yes, Happiness is tricky. It can be very misleading. I say it because the excess of endorphins makes us incapable of developping analytical skills when we experience it. Like drugs.
Now I am not saying that happiness should be avoided in life, because I am already predicting some people that would get offended and say things like: "Oh, so what? should we be sad all the time?"
No, happiness is momentary, and necessary, just as most of our emotions. So no human should aim for only happiness or only sadness in their lives.
So I am embracing this happiness that comes from studying the Cecchetti method. But constantly reminding myself that this happiness comes from movement and not from Cecchetti's personality.
Maybe Cecchetti would not like that a woman of colour with indigenous background dances his steps. Considering he lived in times where Human Zoos just started to be forbidden. Or maybe he would, I guess we will never know and I will not waste time thinking about it.
I can add a thousand more ideas about the subject of the glorification of choreographers and pedagogues in the ballet industry. But I would make some people angry and my research is not about this. Although I still find it important to talk about it openly between ballet dancers. But I will leave that subject with an open door. I personnaly am looking to break the habbit of glorifying ballet personnalities.
first try outs of cecchetti vocabulary and technique
In the beginning this is the way I am approaching the exploration of the Cecchetti vocabulary:
I always warm up with Placement Method to get the Aplomb faster and more efficiently. Then I try the excercises from Julie Cronshaw's video collection at balletsecretcode.com, where she explains details of the style and technical information that happens to have a little bit in common with Placement Method. But it still has some differences.
For the ones who do not know the Cecchetti method, he divided the logic of the class in the days of the week, from monday to saturday, and each day the body works something specific. For example, Aplomb is for monday. In my case, I work Placement Method as a warm up everyday, not just monday, because that is for me the fundamentals of ballet. So within this logic, I allow myself to go straight to some exercises from Tuesday or anyday as I feel it in my body. Since I have been needing to enrich my Ballet vocabulary FASTER because of my personal projects, I am approaching my Cecchetti research like this, in disorder. When I finish my personal project I will go back to it in a more academic way: I will dedicate one week to experience only Cecchetti class within his rules and will document the experience in here.
Now I want to speak about what Julie Cronshaw mentions in the first commentary videos of the excercises. She talks about the importance of the Aplomb. And how working the "center of the body" made her dancing easier, specially jumps. Now I make the parallel with Placement Method, Placement Method has pushed the Aplomb concept to the most rational and precise point, Eric Conrad made like a Aplomb.2 version, and this influences a lot in my jumps. I am also experiencing it, as my jumps are getting lighter without the necessity of making deep "butt out" pliés. So this was my purpose from the beggining, to have Placement as my roots, my structure, and to explore Cecchetti with more ease and less injury risks.
Julie Cronshaw also speaks about some épaulements that Cecchetti used to make in the ballet class. She mentions the danger of assuming épaulement as a "decorative" element in ballet, it is not. It is part of the technique. Which is why some neo classical choreography can lack richness of vocabulary as it uses more and more gymnastic legs and circus tricks because of precisely this lack of information. And what is ironic, she says that the épaulements are so neglected in the ballet professional training and education, that she sees it more in some modern classes. This explains why I need some neo classical modern ballet classes even if they are messy and the teachers have no clue of what the real fundamentals of ballet are. Because I am not sorry to say this, but some contemporary dancers should not teach ballet unless they have studied it meticulously. More and more I see contemporary dancers teaching ballet classes in the shape of STYLES without any real technical information, this puts in danger the health of dancers, but if you want to try them you are a free human.
Now my experience so far with these épaulements was extremely good. Not only because from an anatomical point of view, to combine Placement Method with these really hard épaulements and oppositions, has made my body feel lighter and has helped me release some tension; but also it has given me what I was missing in Placement Method: enjoyment, transmition of emotions, and mostly, I am starting to do some arms and heads that never in my life I did, so I am really rediscovering the art of arms and head. Fun fact, Agripinva Vaganova took also some steps of Enrico Cecchetti to create her "style" lets say it in the western way. Because the russian style was not just founded by Vaganova, Only Western cultures think a ballet style comes from one iluminated person, which is never the case, ballet styles come from a COLLECTIVE work, Cecchetti also hat Petipa's influence. So please let's stop this religious bad habbit of putting one person in a pedestal. Because it is happening too often nowadays specially with modern choreographers.
Anyways, some steps that are no longer done in ballet class are so nice to do. If these steps are not done in class, no choreographer will ever use them to create new things, so this is why neo classical choreographers tend to reproduce the same style, as if they were re inventing the wheel for the sake of "modernity", what a colonial word by the way.
Did you know that the menstrual cup was invented in 1932? Yes, and only now it is "relevant". It was patented in '37 by a woman named Leona Chalmers. That is what happens in History, information gets lost, and then recovered. Same happens with Ballet. We must re discover these lost things from the past not to stay in their "obsolete" mentality (again, for whatever that word means), but to create new things with ideas of the 21st century. And yes. With Ballet vocabulary.
Before we go to the videos there is another important thing to clarify. Julie Cronshaw has described in her videos how she trained the two dancers that showcase the Cecchetti excercises. And she said that to dance like the real Cecchetti version is not possible nowadays and that she had to reeducate the ballet training of these two beautiful ballet dancers that we see on her videos and documentary. I understand what she means. Because right now out of circumstances I am just trying the excercises as I can, but then I go further into details and I realize that a lot more information is needed. Which is why I am clarifying the fact that my aim is to enlarge my ballet vocabulary and not to become the human Cecchetti dictionnary.
I still recomend to watch the documentary in balletsecretcode.com , you will discover a lot of beautiful things, that maybe nowaydays are considered kitschy but to actually dance those simple steps is very very hard. I can honestly say that those excercises are so difficult that not even some prima ballerinas of 2021 would be able to do them...
So the first excercises that I am experimenting with, are the ones who are most familiar looking to mainstream ballet. The more I watch the excercises the more I see an incredible amount of vocabulary that I will gladly explore later when I finish my project at the end of July. Details like the "jouer" hands in somme rond de jambes en l'air or some Pas de la Mascotte Adagios, or some movements that seem to be closer to Baroque dances than to ballet. It all makes me extremely excited and I feel definitely prepared for the challenge thanks to Placement Method. I am my own human experiment.
So here I show in the videos some excercises that I have been experimenting with. Most of them are from Monday and Tuesday, as I know how to get my Aplomb faster.
This excercise is showed in demi pointe in the website, without a barre. Julie Cronshaw said that the entire excercise when done in pointe must have the pliés also on pliés. Which of course we were not yet able to do and we needed to use the help of the barre, since we are not used to trust our epaulement and we tend to think more with the legs. That is one important details that we discovered with this excercise: Dancing becomes easier when the movement comes from the head (assuming you are already placed). The excercise is also a lot faster than what it looks like. I will keep practicing it until I can make it without the barre and with pointe shoes. That is one of my best friends Valerie by the way hehe. We all discuss this Laboratory pretty often and my friends also gladly try with me some excercises to figure themselves out too. It is our supporting group were we brainstorm and share ballet life.
This adage has mostly technical purposes and is not so interesting to watch in a aesthetic point of view. Except for the pose at the end, please watch the end of this Adagio, you will be surprised. The technical purpose of this "Bread and Butter" adage from Monday, is to keep working on Aplomb. Like mentioned, I will leave more and more to the side these aplomb excercises as I am able to get the aplomb faster and better with Placement, but I will keep these oppositions and flicflacs as a side note for choreographing. I still wanted to show you the excercise to understand where this is going.
This adage at the barre... When I saw it, I definitely wanted to try after a Placement warmup. It is a barre excercise. According to Julie Cronshaw the barre at Cecchetti's Method is simple. Now if I understood her corrections right, I lifted my leg too high when I did the back bend. I was keeping my butt squeezed for my placement and suddenly it became some sort of attitude penché, but that curve, that line of the upper body will not get easy if you don't pull your stomach in and protect your lower back. That in case you did not have time to do your Placement research. For my placement people you all know that this excercise will be very interesting to try. Later in my research I will do Adagios with the same upper body movement in the center. I have to be able to technically do this in the center, I am already imagining the music I want to choreograph as an experiment for this lab.
This is an allegro from tuesday I think, the coordination of the arms, take a good look at the arms. If I am not mistaken, I think the last head should be looking more down the floor. The coordination of the arms and steps was difficult. But we were not so bad after all. hehe.
This excercise is an attempt of the moving of the upper body ot the front. It is actually quite fun to do, finally a grand Allegro which does not include "Tombé, pas de bourré, glissade, grand jeté".
I hope you enjoyed these first videos, I will keep increasing the difficulties of the excercises the more I try them, and will keep posting about the experience in here. Yesterday I posted a small preview of the adagio I am planning to improve and perfect to film. More videos coming soon.
If you are a Cecchetti diploma teacher I am welcoming your corrections in the comment section, I know said I don't want to be the reincarnation of the Cecchetti Method but in order to break the rules one must know them first. Right? So first understanding, then deconstructing.
Gefördert durch die Beauftragte der Bundesregierung für Kultur und Medien im Programm NEUSTART KULTUR, Hilfsprogramm DIS-TANZEN des Dachverbands Tanz Deutschlands.