Ballet Evolved – The First Four Centuries: The Men….
Carlo Blasis 1797-1878
Widely regarded as one of the fathers of modern ballet, Former ballet mistress for the Royal Ballet, Ursula Hageli explains how Carlo Blasis’s writings have inspired the ballet techniques of today. With demonstration from Royal Ballet dancer Marcelino Sambé. Piano – Tim Qualtrough.
Blasis is well known for his very rigorous dance classes, sometimes lasting four hours long. Blasis insisted that his students learn theories and definitions of dance steps. He trained all of Enrico Cecchetti’s teachers and it is thought that Blasis’s influence in his training is what led Cecchetti to create the Cecchetti method of ballet.
Auguste Vestris 1760-1842
Join Ursula Hageli as she introduces “le dieu de la danse” – Auguste Vestris. With performance from Royal Ballet dancer Valentino Zucchetti. Trained solely and with the greatest care by his father, Gaétan Vestris, Auguste Vestris made a single unofficial appearance at the Opéra (and was dubbed Vestr’Allard by a newspaper critic) in 1772, at age 12. Although he revealed extraordinary promise, his father withdrew him for further training before permitting his formal debut in 1776. Being admitted into the company, bearing the name Vestris alone, he rose rapidly to the forefront. As a dancer possessing unprecedented virtuosity, Auguste Vestris’s dazzlingly athletic style was very different from his father’s.
August Bournonville 1805-1879
Former Principal with The Royal Ballet, Johan Kobborg introduces the style of August Bournonville in rehearsal with Artist Marcelino Sambé, with former ballet mistress Ursula Hageli and pianist Tim Qualtrough.
August Bournonville, the man known as the father of the Danish ballet style of ballet. He studied under the Italian choreographer Vincenzo Galeotti at the Royal Danish Ballet, Copenhagen, and in Paris, France, under French dancer Auguste Vestris. He initiated a unique style in ballet known as the Bournonville School.
The Bournonville method appears fluid and effortless, even though it is technically challenging. One of the key features of the Bournonville technique is its emphasis on quick footwork, beaten jumps and batterie. Graceful epaulement , or placement of the shoulders, is also important. In addition, the technique requires graceful, basic arm movements as well as a lifted torso.
Many of the movements begin and end in fifth position, and pirouettes are executed by placing the foot into a low develope position. A Bournonville dancer’s eyes often follow the moving leg, striving for an expression of kindness.
Marius Petipa 1818-1910
One of the greatest ballet choreographers, Marius Petipa, created over fifty ballets. His exotic La Bayadère was given its premiere at the Bolshoi Theatre in St Petersburg in 1877. It was regularly performed within the former Soviet Union throughout the 20th century but was almost unknown in the West until 1961, when the touring Kirov Ballet performed the famous Kingdom of the Shades scene. Natalia Makarova saw the ballet as a child in Leningrad and created this version for American Ballet Theatre in 1980.
Enrico Cecchetti 1850 – 1928
Enrico Cecchetti was one of the most influential ballet teachers of all time, coaching greats such as Pavlova and Nijinsky. He trained under Lepri, a pupil of the great Carlo Blasis who codified the technique of Classical Ballet in 1820. Blasis ideas were developed further by Cecchetti who grouped the Classical vocabulary into six sets of exercises, one for each day of the week. This work was recorded and published in 1922 by Cyril Beaumont, assisted by Stanislas Idzikowski and Enrico Cecchetti himself. Further volumes were compiled by Margaret Craske and Derra de Moroda. In 1918, Cecchetti settled in London, laying the groundwork for the formation of The Royal Ballet. Join Ballet Mistress Ursula Hageli and dancer Nicol Edmonds as they demonstrate one of Cecchetti’s fiendishly hard adage exercises. Piano – Tim Qualtrough