Enrico Cecchetti was born in Italy in 1850. At the height of his career as a dancer he migrated to St Petersburg, where he joined the Imperial Russian Ballet and created the virtuoso role of the Bluebird and the mime role of Carabosse in the premiere of The Sleeping Beauty in 1890. As well as dancing with the Imperial Russian Ballet Company, Cecchetti also taught the Class of Perfection in the school.
He also taught many Mariinsky dancers, including Pavlova, Karsavina and Nijinsky. In 1909 he joined Diaghilev's Ballets Russes as a teacher and mime artist. His pupils included Alicia Markova, Ninette de Valois, Marie Rambert and Leonide Massine.
In 1918 he opened a school of dancing in London, at 160 Shaftesbury Avenue.
Cecchetti trained under Lepri, a pupil of the great Carlo Blasis who codified the technique of Classical Ballet in 1820. His 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.
Then in 1923 he returned to Italy and he accepted the post of Director of the Ballet School in La Scala, Milan. He died there in 1928.