From a former DDD dancer to instructor at DDD
by Laura Lowe, August 6, 2015
I cannot tell you how many times I complained to my mom about having to go to Cecchetti classes in the summer when I was 8 years old. I hated ballet and did not see any point to it whatsoever. Ballet wasn’t fun, and you had to stand at the bar forever before you could do any jumps. I couldn’t run around doing whatever I wanted like in jazz or tap class because apparently Cecchetti had “strict rules” that I had to follow. I took Pre-Grade I that summer, and we had to copy down a bunch of these complicated words into our notebooks. (It wasn’t until later that I found out these were French ballet terms and not just random letters put together to make my head hurt.) So… Let’s just say that 8 year old me was not ready yet.
After that dreadful week of taking notes and standing up straight was over, I had another fun year of learning dances, competing, and dancing in recital. Then it was summer time and again time for Cecchetti workshops. I went back to Pre-Grade I with a new notebook to try again with a little more curiosity this time because some of my friends were taking class too. I remember writing down the positions of the feet and arms in class and then going home and drawing pictures to go with it so I wouldn’t forget if I had to take Pre-Grade I again next year. I actually wrote everything down twice because I wanted it to be nice and neat. I remember Miss Jillian drilling the Theory of the Movement of the Feet and Arms into my head like my life depended on it.
After taking um… two years of Pre-Grade I, I was finally ready to do the three weeks of training in preparation for my Grade I exam. At this time, I still didn’t have much of an understanding of why I was doing this. All I was told was that once I passed my Grade I Cecchetti exam, I could get pointe shoes. Now there was something I was interested in. Pointe shoes!!!!!!! I mean what little girl doesn’t aspire to be one of those ballerinas wearing pointe shoes and a flat tutu. So once I had my mind set on getting to wear pointe shoes, 10 year old me was determined to put in the work needed to pass that exam. And I did! ☺
And that was it. I was hooked. After that I went on to take Grade II-V exams. And I started to enjoy the grace and power that came along with ballet. I was also noticing my improvements in jazz, lyrical, and tap dancing from taking ballet so seriously. The Cecchetti Method is very adamant about body placement, alignment, and technique. It was in these summer Cecchetti ballet intensives that I learned what muscles I had to use to stretch my arms, legs, and feet and how to hold my core to be able to let my feet do a million different movements while my upper body looked as poised as could be. This is where I learned that ballet is the basis for every other kind of dance out there. If you have a strong ballet base, you can do anything! And that has proven true for me. I have gone on to be successful in other styles of dance like hip hop, modern, and even highland dancing. I can easily pick up any style of dance because Cecchetti taught me how I can effectively use my body for dance and what strengths and limitations I have.
This summer I passed my Grade I teachers exam, which means that I can now teach and train younger dancers wanting to take their Grade I exam. I have learned so much more about the Cecchetti Method and how successful it was when Enrico Cecchetti was (YES! He was a real person!) training dancers in the late 19th and early 20th century to today where his method is being taught all around the world. The best part of his method is how everything builds from Grade to Grade so dancers can continue to grow and improve. I know that Miss Jillian is such a big geek about it and it’s rubbing off on me. We are so lucky to have this great program at DuHadway Dance Dimensions. It is very intense and serious training, but is perfect for those dancers who want to improve their dancing and have a love and passion for dance.
Today, July 10, 2017
Laura Lowe continues teaching the Cecchetti Method at DuHadway Dance Dimensions while working on her own teacher exams. Miss Jillian continues to offer Pre-Grade I through Grade V classes for students who are ready to study ballet.