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Cecchetti Classical Ballet Awards 2014

Cecchetti Classical Ballet Awards 2014

29 March 2015

Julie Cronshaw and Penny Kay report on a highlight of the Cecchetti calendar

The Cecchetti Children’s and Junior Mabel Ryan Awards

“The joy of dance starts in the wings....” These true words were spoken by Olivia Pickford, adjudicating the Cecchetti Children’s and Junior Mabel Ryan Awards. The Awards took place on Saturday 22nd November 2014 at the Lilian Baylis Studio, Sadler’s Wells Theatre in London. This annual event is one of the highlights in the Cecchetti calendar, showcasing the high level of ballet training in Cecchetti schools around the UK. In the afternoon 84 children aged 8–13 who had been entered by more than 40 ballet teachers, took part in 3 separately judged competitions. Olivia Pickford teaches at the Birmingham Royal Ballet and works as a freelance choreographer. She reminded the audience that, “dance is an art and not a sport”. Joining her as Adjudicator for the Cecchetti Associates Performance Shields and Junior Vacani Award, which are prizes given for performance quality, was Linda Davies, former committee member, examiner and original Cecchetti scholar. 

Catherine Hutchon, Chair of the Cecchetti Society, introduced the afternoon’s competitions and Sarah Wells (Faculty Committee and Cecchetti Group member and organiser for the Cecchetti Centre) presented the work. Liz Hewson accompanied the class work and dances with her customary flair and many years experience of these competitions.

At the presentation of the Awards, Linda Davies and Olivia Pickford were invited to address the children with positive comments on their dancing. They were very pleased with the high level of dancing onstage, the maturity of many of the dancers who were all under 13 and the quality of attention to detail to both the class work and the dances. Ms Davies gave very helpful advice, no doubt also intended for teachers sitting in the audience. In the Cecchetti Method, “everything flows from the Port de Bras”, for the dancers to enjoy their dancing all the way through the class, not just for their favourite steps. She said, “the art of ballet is to make difficult things look easy”, and she urged the dancers to, “never forget whom you are dancing for”. 

Both adjudicators acknowledged a very enjoyable and well-organised afternoon and much difficulty in choosing the eventual winners. To close the competition Catherine Hutchon thanked the staff at Sadler’s Wells as well as the corporate sponsors, teachers and parents of the dancers who had supported the competition. A warm round of applause was saved for the organisers without whom the competition would not have been possible: Elizabeth James, Chair of the Cecchetti Group, and Judith Wilson, organiser, also Lisa Hunter and the backstage team of hardworking group members and volunteers. 

Julie Cronshaw

The Cecchetti Middle and Senior Mabel Ryan Awards and the Vocational Awards

The Cecchetti Classical Ballet Awards weekend continued on Sunday 23rd November with the Middle and Senior Mabel Ryan Awards in the morning, followed by the Vocational Awards incorporating the Fewster Cecchetti Scholarship and the Barbara Geoghegan Award in the afternoon and evening.

Susan Lucas and Mary Stassinopoulos adjudicated the morning competition. Their encouraging and valid comments to the middle section dancers included advice to use the whole body to show enjoyment (not just the face), to pay attention to the metatarsals and not overturn the croisé alignment. Miss Lucas demonstrated how lifting the elbows transforms the line through the body and that sustaining the arms when landing from leaps gives the illusion of flight.

The seniors were given a combination of set and unset work on stage, which was beautifully constructed by Sarah Wells and accompanied by Liz Hewson on the piano. Following the solos, the adjudicators commented that running en avant does require turnout (!) and that the arms in 3rd arabesque should never be too wide open, as the audience view has the illusion of a one-armed ballerina. Miss Lucas also reminded the dancers of Ninette De Valois’s wise advice for allegro to tackle the arms first and the legs will (usually) follow.

Darcey Bussell CBE and Christopher Saunders adjudicated the Vocational Awards and this part of the competition drew a large and appreciative audience. Ursula Hageli, with David Smith on the piano, gave classes for male and female competitors. Miss Hageli gave just the right balance of exposure for all dancers to shine and feel challenged. Dancers then performed a solo in costume from wide ranging classical repertoire. There were 50 entrants from 8 vocational schools, and with the calibre of competitors including winners and finalists of the Cecchetti International Classical Ballet Competition (CICB); it made a fantastic showcase for the Cecchetti work. 

The adjudicators’ comments included using the floor properly in battements tendu and following this through into grands battements, using the arms to always go through ‘the gateway’. Christopher Saunders reminded the men to feel the ends of their fingers, so hands never appear lifeless. Darcey Bussell reminded the girls that they should never be heard in pointe shoes but should create a magical illusion and that tying ribbons too tight risks injury to the Achilles tendon. She also cited that all movements need a good preparation, and for dancers to think and consider for instance how they are going to use the foot before a posé. Their final word was concerning using the body and face in performance and to consider where the repertoire solos come from and to put them into context.

The day was magnificent, memorable and inspiring. Each part was carefully orchestrated by our new Chair, Catherine Hutchon who welcomed audiences and introduced the panel. Beautifully organised by Judith Wilson, Liz James and members of the Cecchetti Group, it was a showcase of top class work. Thanks must go to the judges, pianists, backstage help, class presenters, teachers, dancers and the staff of Sadler’s Wells. International Dance Supplies sponsored a delicious lunch for guests and Oberon Books, Dancia International, Gaynor Minden and The Cecchetti Society
Trust were the other generous sponsors of the weekend. 

Penny Kay


Children’s Award A  

Winner: Hannah Orman, Sandra Powell/Hayley Cheneler

Runner Up: Daisy Cohen, Juliet Locks/Lucy Pohl

Cecchetti Associates Performance Award

Winner: Imogen Pohl, Juliet Locks/ Emma Jane Padfield

Runner Up: Margret Barrett, Sandra Powell/Hayley Cheneler

Children’s Award  B 

Winner: Delphine Angeli, Julie Cronshaw

Runner Up: Neith Belcher,
Trudi Osborne

Runner Up: Pia-Llewella Jones, Jacqueline Langman

Cecchetti Associates Performance Award

Winner: Elinor Holme, Judith Wilson

Runner Up: Eve Alexander, Julie Cronshaw

Runner Up: Hanna Wright, Juliet Locks/Lucy Pohl

Junior Award

Winner: Isabella Mattera, Penny Kay

Runner Up: Amy Coan, Caroline Ambery/Heather MacDonald

Runner Up: Lucy Summerell, Kate Simmons/Gillian Hurst/ Tracey Moss

Vacani Award

Winner: Chloe Hatton, Philippa McMeechan

Runner up: Megan Finn, Rachel Hayward

Runner Up: Eliona Shosholli, Julie Cronshaw

Middle Award

Winner: Emily Pohl, Juliet Locks/ Emma Jane Padfield

Runner Up: Yasmin Barry-Djemal, Julie Cronshaw

Vacani Award

Winner: Amy Payne, Carol Goode

Runner Up: Lily Armah, Faye Harmsworth

Senior Award

Winner: Noga Inspector, Julie Cronshaw

Runner up: Esme Calcutt, Gillian Toogood/Joanna Cox

Vacani Award

Winner: Jasmine Coomber, Judith Wilson

Runner up: Jessica Lee, Lisa Hunter

Fewster Cecchetti Scholarship

Winner: Jenny Hackwell, KS Dance Ltd

Runner Up: Tim Hill, Elmhurst School for Dance

Boys Award: Joshua Lee, Elmhurst School for Dance

Barbara Geoghegan Award

Winner: George Nightingale, English National Ballet School

Runner Up: Padua Eaton, Elmhurst School for Dance

Promising Young Dancer

Winner: Rosanna Ely, Elmhurst School for Dance

Musicality Award

Winner: Michaela Gobas, Elmhurst School for Dance

Click here for a full list of results, including those who received commendations and their teachers.

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