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Professional Development Course 2012

18 December 2012

Connie Davis Lawrence gains a valuable insight into the Cecchetti method

have just returned home to the USA after having the privilege to attend the Cecchetti Professional Development Course (PDC) for teachers in Chichester, Sussex, England, as well as the Kate Simmons International Summer School in Warrington. 

The four-day PDC intensive course focused on the children’s work and Intermediate Foundation syllabi. Penny Kay taught very creative Primary/Standards classes that included an Olympics theme, and two Pilates classes were held by Sarah Jane Palmer. Additionally, Cecchetti Examiners, Christine Axon, Alison Jenner and Elisabeth Swan, taught syllabus classes. Even though England’s grades differ from the Cecchetti Council of America (CCA), as an experienced mature teacher I found the course both enlightening and very enriching. 

Faculty included ex-professionals Simone Clarke (Birmingham Royal Ballet and English National Ballet), as well as Martin Dutton and Peter Parker (Northern Ballet). Open classes included emphasis on barre work with analysis of technique and teaching points as well as port de bras, adage as well as specific classes in The Teaching of Pirouettes by Martin Dutton, Boys Work with Peter Parker and Qualities in Petit and Grand Allegro and Ballon with Simone Clarke. All three ex-professionals are proficient teachers who inspired their audience on and off the dance floor. The first three evenings included additional activities of a Welcome Reception, a Mock Grade 4 Level Exam conducted by Sandra Powell and a very entertaining Music Lecture/Demonstration by Brian Wilson. This enabled all of us to socialise, share our experiences, commiserate with our aches and pains, as well as make new international friends!

Overall, I feel I gained invaluable insight and knowledge into teaching the details, technique and style of the Cecchetti method. The similarities outweighed the differences in the fact that every teacher at this conference was passionate about preserving the Cecchetti method and teaching the best Ballet technique this world will ever know.

My new friend and colleague from Ireland, Sharon Johnston, was presented with The Emmerson Shield by Christine Axon, Examiner and organiser of this course. The Emmerson Shield is presented at the end of each summer school to a teacher whom the faculty have noted as being outstandingly dedicated and an all-round asset to the PDC. I hope to see her in Michigan sometime soon, and better yet, I hope to see everyone in England again. I can’t wait to return!

Connie Davis Lawrence, Fellow Member, CCA & Chairman of the Midwest Committee

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