The Cecchetti Associate Scheme was started in 1996 by Susan Handy having been asked by the then current Society Chairman Mary-Jane Duckworth to set up classes for students of the Cecchetti method; The classes would be in addition to the usual weekly lesson and would consist of a ballet class and a second class in a different dance genre. The Associates were introduced to Classical Greek Dance Character, National, Contemporary, Repertoire, Mime, National, Modern Jazz, Pas de Deux, Street Dance, Spanish.
The first auditions were held at the Arts Educational Schools, Chiswick with one hundred and eleven children attending divided into four auditions. Forty five instead of the thirty students originally planned for were chosen and placed into three classes. Children came not only from Cecchetti teachers but from Imperial Balllet, RAD and BBO teachers too.
We were fortunate in being able to offer three scholarships which given by Juliet Locks and Sonia Bond of the Buckhurst Hill and Woodford School of Dancing, Antonia Young The Antonia Dugdale Scholarship and the Cecchetti Group. We now have seven scholarships and the special Lobo Award which is awarded to the student who has gone right through the whole scheme from JA1 to Graduates.
Scholarships are also given to selected students to attend the Cecchetti Summer Schools.
In twenty-five years of the scheme the number of classes has increased to eight including classes for boys and for Graduates. They have moved to the lovely studios of the Rambert School of Ballet and Contemporary dance in Twickenham. Two other schemes have also been started in Wales and Warrington.
Associates have the opportunity to take part in demonstrations on Cecchetti Day at the Royal Ballet School, go to the ballet, have workshops in many different dance genres and have the opportunity to watch various Company classes and rehearsals. They are encouraged to audition for the Cecchetti Scholarship Scheme, enter the Choreographic Competition and enter the Cecchetti Classical Awards held annually at Sadler’s Wells Theatre.
Many past Associates have gone on to vocational schools, dance professionally and become Cecchetti teachers. Past students have come back to assist with the younger classes, giving them an introduction to teaching.
There is a wonderful committee who run the classes look after the website and use social media.
Last year we celebrated the twenty-fifth anniversary of the scheme and we look forward to at least another twenty-five years and more.
A blue Enrico leotard was chosen for the uniform. Tracy Brown, a principal dancer with the Royal Ballet Company was asked to be the Patron. The first committee was Juliet Locks, Anthea Barnes, Tessa Barker and Hazel Turner who took on the role of treasurer.