Unsung Heroes: Pioneers in the Story of Ballet

Enrico Cecchetti coaching Russian ballet dancer Anna Pavlova in her studio, St. Petersburg, Russia, c. 1910

For many the story of ballet is all about the iconic stars of the past: Auguste Vestris, Marie Camargo, Marie Taglioni, Tamara Karsavina, Vaslav Nijinsky, Anna Pavlova, George Balanchine, Margot Fonteyn, Galina Ulanova and so many more; names that are still familiar today and their stories endlessly fascinating. 

However, behind all great people are the stories of the people who moulded them, who championed the development of the art of ballet and helped make ballet what it is today.

Without Jean-Georges Noverre (1727-1810) and his reforms which foreshadowed the work of Laban, Fokine and Jooss, would ballet have progressed to become the art-form it now is? 

Without the ballet teacher Enrico Cecchetti (1850-1928) would Pavlova, Karsavina and Nijinsky have been the outstanding dancers that they became?  Cecchetti influenced the young Ninette de Valois when she was training and went on to develop her own ‘English style’ with her new fledgling company, the Vic-Wells Ballet. 

Cecchetti himself was taught by Carlo Blasis the Italian dancer, choreographer and dance theoretician. He is remembered for his rigorous dance classes, for insisting his pupils knew their dance theory and the definition of dance steps. 

Then there was August Bournonville, pioneering his own balletic style in Denmark, away from the then mainstream balletic tradition: his legacy was only really rediscovered and evaluated for the shining light it truly is, in the 20th century. 

Not many will know the name Serge Grigoriev, but it is to him we owe so much.  He was a dancer and ballet master but also the Régisseur for the Ballets Russes and later de Basil’s Ballets Russes de Monte Carlo.  Through his dedication, and thanks to his phenomenal memory, we owe the preservation of so much of the famous Russian repertoire.  This presentation will bring to life these unsung heroes of ballet and shine a spotlight on their enormous contributions to the story of ballet.

Presentation: this presentation is illustrated by PowerPoint slides, along with archive film clips and DVDs shown to illustrate the topic.

search previous next tag category expand menu location phone mail time cart zoom edit close