The Cecchetti method teaches dancers the artistry of dance by repetitions of movements. Although Cecchetti method was initially meant to instruct classical ballet, many Cecchetti organizations also included contemporary or modern improvisation in their syllabus. For example, Cecchetti Ballet Australia, a member of Cecchetti International said in its Book of Rules and Procedures that “The emphasis of the syllabus will be on the enjoyment, improvisation and understanding of the Cecchetti Principles rather than technique, thereby enabling the recreational student to achieve a good result.[1]


Improvisation is also possible to achieve in classical ballet, although it takes a great deal of effort and artistic talents. I believe that improvisation is the finest realm of ballet. The Dying Swan, one of my favorite ballets of all times, was an improvisation by the famous ballerina Anna Pavlova.[2] It later became a classic ballet piece and Pavlova’s signature dance. I love this dance because the movements are very engaged with the music and the character. Pavlova’s portrait of the swan was both vivid and sorrowful. But at the same time, the beauty of the ballerina remained in the movements. Pavlova was trained by Enrico Cecchetti exclusively for two years before she became a prima ballerina. It must have been Cecchetti’s detail-oriented and repeated training that allowed Pavlova to fully play out her potentials.

Perhaps it is the need for liberty and spontaneity in the United States that inspired the modern style of dance. Another student of Cecchetti, George Balanchine became an influential modern choreographer when he went to the United States. Compared to other choreographers, he had more insights into music. He studied piano and musical theory in the Conservatory of Music in the U.S. [3] Compared to ballet, modern dance is more grounded with all ranges of movement. Modern dancers play less of a character on stage compared to ballet dancers.  Instead, modern dancers focus on their own expressions in movements and the beauty of the body shapes that they make. To achieve the beautiful shapes, male and female roles are compromised in modern dance. Regardless of gender, dancers can lift each other up, spin each other around and make all kinds of responses to the music.


[1] Cecchetti International. Book of Rules and Procedures for Cecchetti Teachers. Clifton Hill: Cecchetti International, 2012. Web. 13 Oct. 2016. <;

Young, Linda Martina. Where Grace May Pass: A Poetics of the Body. Carpinteria, CA: Pacifica Graduate Institute, 2007. Print.

[3] “George Balanchine.” NYCB –. New York City Ballet, n.d. Web. 13 Oct. 2016. <;.