British ballet is most recognised for two leading methods, those of the Royal Ballet School and the Royal Academy of Dance. The identifying characteristic of British ballet is the focus on clean, precise technique and purity of line that is free of exaggeration and mannerisms. The training of dancers in Britain is noted for its slow progression, with a great deal of attention paid to basic technique. British ballet methods operate on the principle that establishing correct technique and strength slowly makes it much easier for the student to adapt to more difficult vocabulary and techniques later on.
The Cecchetti method was vital in the development of classical ballet in the United Kingdom and contributed heavily to modern day British teaching methods. Enrico Cecchetti and his wife opened a ballet school in London in 1918, and his pupils included some of the most influential names in British ballet, many also influencing ballet throughout the world.
Dame Marie Rambert was a former pupil and colleague of Cecchetti, and she also established a professional ballet school teaching his methods. This led to the formation of the Ballet Club, the UK's first ballet company, which survives today as the country's oldest established dance company, although it is now known as Rambert Dance Company and specialises in contemporary dance. The school also remains and is known as the Rambert School of Ballet and Contemporary Dance. Dame Ninette de Valois was a colleague of Cecchetti during her professional career with the Ballets Russes. She established The Royal Ballet in London, with many of the company's early dancers being pupils of Cecchetti. The Cecchetti method was also favoured by de Valois when she formed the Royal Ballet School. Phyllis Bedells, another Cecchetti pupil, would also play an important role in the teaching of ballet in Britain, as a founder member of the Royal Academy of Dance, which today is the world's largest classical ballet-teaching organisation.
The British writer and dance historian Cyril W. Beaumont was a close friend of Cecchetti and in 1922 he collaborated with Cecchetti to codify the technique into a printed syllabus, The Cecchetti Method of Classical Ballet, which has become the foremost reference for Cecchetti method teachers worldwide. Cecchetti also gave Beaumont permission to establish the Cecchetti Society to maintain the method and ensure that it would be passed on to future ballet teachers in its original form. Branches of the Cecchetti Society were subsequently established around the world, most notably in Australia, South Africa, Canada and the USA. The original Cecchetti Society still exists in Britain, although it was absorbed into the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing, which continues to maintain the Cecchetti method as a separate entity from its own Imperial Classical Ballet syllabus.
It is in the tradition of classical ballet that technique is passed on directly Enrico Cecchetti having been taught by Giovanni Lepri who was taught by Carlo Blasis and the line can be traced back to Beauchamp, the first ballet master at the court of Louis X1V. So too was the Cecchetti method been passed on directly by his former pupils like Laura Wilson.
Britain became one of the first Western countries to be influenced by the Vaganova method. The method was introduced to Britain by the renowned teacher Vera Volkova who became one of the first teachers at the Sadler's Wells Ballet School.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Ballet in the United Kingdom.|