Cecchetti Diploma DVD created by Alberta Ballet School Artistic Advisor

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The complete Cecchetti Diploma has just been released on DVD, and the brains behind it is our very own Diane van Schoor, Alberta Ballet School’s Artistic Advisor.

It took the better part of five years of working around busy dancer schedules and her own commitments, but the end result is just as she had envisioned – educational, informative and the perfect resource for any dancer wanting to improve their technique.

“I guess it’s my life’s work and I hope it’s a legacy that I’ll leave behind,” said Diane, who’s been Artistic Advisor for Alberta Ballet School for the last three years. “This whole thing has been my baby.”

Alberta Ballet School Director Ashley McNeil said Diane’s involvement with the school is invaluable and speaks to the high-calibre training that students receive.

“She helped us create our school curriculum and has been instrumental in our Professional Training Division Program Assessments for both faculty and students,” she said. “I am truly honored to work with Diane as our Artistic Advisor. Her knowledge and expertise have been an integral part of our school and its development. We are so thrilled that Diane will continue our journey with us.”

Diane was asked by the Cecchetti Society Trust in the UK to make the film several times, but only agreed to it in 2014 after she left The Royal Ballet School where she worked as Principal for 15 years. And she did it on the condition that she could use professional dancers and could hire “the best cameraman that money could buy,” she said.

Diane handpicked dancers she had previously trained when she was teaching - three from The Royal Ballet and four from the Birmingham Royal Ballet. They began the teaching in 2014 and filming started in 2016/2017.

“The dancers were over the moon because I think they realized they would have lots of one-on-one time with me in the studio that you don’t get when you’re a professional dancer,” she said.

The Cecchetti Society Trust asked Diane’s husband, accompanist Roland Thompson, to do the music for the film, so the film became a family project.

“The project really took five years of his life and of mine, but it wasn’t five years nonstop. The companies would go on tour and sometimes I wouldn’t see the dancers for three months,” said Diane.

“The dancers were doing eight shows a week and coming to work with me on a free Saturday and Sunday. Sometimes in the Opera House, when they were in Nutcracker, they’d do Act 1 and Act 2 and come back to do an hour’s coaching. Their level of commitment and dedication was just extraordinary. I think the fact that they hung in there for four years has to say something about their appreciation and their reverence to the Cecchetti work.”

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The Cecchetti Method is a classical style based on the teachings of Italian ballet master Enrico Cecchetti. The Method involves a rigorous training and vast syllabus that focuses on strength, poise, balance, elevation, classical lines, musicality and artistry. 

“The dancers in the project are the dancers of the future. All of the dancers got promotions while they were working on the project,” Diane said. “The work is really tough, and they did struggle studying it, so I would have hoped that went towards their promotions.”

The film was shot by Ross McGibbon, an internationally renowned filmmaker and former dancer with The Royal Ballet. The Royal Ballet also allowed filming and coaching to take place at the Opera House studios at no cost. Diane was also heavily involved in the production of the film, deciding on which of the 80 hours of footage they had would make it into the final DVD. The final product also includes Italian subtitles, and a Japanese edition that includes translated audio as well as a booklet.

The film was funded by The Legacy Fundraising Group through generous donations and all proceeds will go back to the Trust. The dual release DVD and BluRay are available for purchase in the front-of-house shop of The Royal Opera House, but can be ordered online here.

About Diane

Born in South Africa, Diane van Schoor was trained by Jennifer Louw, later the University of Cape Town Ballet School [Director Dulcie Howes] and danced professionally for CAPAB Ballet [Director David Poole].  She founded her School of Classical Ballet and held a lectureship in Movement Studies in the Dramatic Arts Faculty, University of Stellenbosch.

Read Diane’s full bio

Kim Jackson