5. Cecchetti Syllabus Certificates and Exams

At The Ballet Studio we make extensive use of the Cecchetti syllabus as set by the Cecchetti Council of America.
  • There are three Primary Certificate Levels, intended principally for ages 5 to 8 or 9 (for older beginners, Primary 3 may be taken by ages 10 or 11).   The Primary Levels build up to the more technically rigorous Children's Grades (1-4) for ages 8 and up, and these in turn prepare students for the material in the highly demanding Professional Grades (Elementary Grade 5, Intermediate Grade 6, Advanced Grade 7).    
  • For more on the Cecchetti Council of America (CCA), see  http://www.cecchetti.org  
What and Why: The Certificate-Level Presentations (Primary 1-3) and Exams (CCA Grades 1- up).
  • These are "check-ups" from outside experts who understand both what is ultimately required of a professional dancer, and what can be reasonably expected of children leading up to that, on age-appropriate levels.   It is an opportunity for parents and students to receive unbiased constructive comments regarding the young dancer's progress, from an independent source, someone other than the child's regular dance teacher.   It is a check-up for both the dancer and the dance teacher.
  • Teachers are responsible for properly preparing students in the syllabus material and for the certificate/exam experience.  
  • Students must be presented for certificates/exams by their regular dance teacher; parents and students may not "sign up" on their own.
  • The Grade-level exams address technique, style and musicality, and knowledge of theory.
  • In the exam, students are asked a few theory questions, and they perform set patterns that they have worked on all year, to the same music they have used all year.   There are no "surprises."     The examiners provide some constructive feedback regarding the age-appropriate development of each child's ballet technique and their style and musicality, and  officially approve their "graduation" to the next level of material.    
  • At The Ballet Studio, our philosophy is that it is a privilege and an honor to be recommended for a certificate, at any level.  Students must have achieved a secure level of accomplishment in their age-appropriate material before they are told that they are ready to "present for their certificate."   We sometimes use the word "exam" as a sort of short-cut terminology, but these are not "tests" in the usual sense of the word, and children are not "criticized."     Particularly at the youngest ages, parents should think of these as being similar to receiving a badge or "flying up" in Girl Scouts,  or showing off to some special ballet people that they know their stuff, or perhaps getting word at the end of the school year that they have "passed" to the next grade.  We all knew they were ready, but this makes it official.    The levels are understood worldwide by anyone who works in or knows the Cecchetti syllabus; should you move to (for instance) London or Capetown or Stuttgart the ballet folks there will know in what class to correctly place your child.    And parents, know that Miss Barbara will never recommend a child for a Certificate Day experience exam if she does not think the child is ready!   If you have concerns, please talk with her before turning in your exam fees and permission slips!   
Cecchetti Syllabus Certificate requirements and procedures.
  • Students are presented for their level as a class grouping
  • 10-12 weeks before the locally-scheduled exam session, students in each group must be nearly-ready for their certificate level presentation  (see http://www.CecchettiEastCoast for the current year's dates etc.)
  • 8 weeks before the exam session, parents must turn in their child's CCA exam fee and permission form to The Ballet Studio 
  • 7 weeks before the exam session, The Ballet Studio submits our list of candidates and a single check for total fees to the CCA East Coast Committee (ECC) Registrar
  • The ECC Registrar contacts the main CCA office in Michigan regarding the number of examiners and days needed for the exam session, and the CCA assigns examiners for our local exam session.   Flight and hotel arrangements are made.    Local teachers are contacted to host the sessions.  Exam schedules are finalized.
  • 2 weeks before the exam session (sometimes sooner), The Ballet Studio is informed of the exact location and day and time of each group's certificate-level session.
Certificate Day.
  • Try not to over-schedule yourself with other activities that day.
  • A week before, double-check that your tights and leotard and ballet shoes are exam-acceptable!
  • Get a good night's sleep the night before!  (And have a good breakfast, or lunch, depending on the time you are scheduled.)  
  • Do your hair in extra- tidy ballet style before you leave home. (Don't forget to bring your ballet shoes, and maybe some hair touch-up supplies.)
  • Arrive at the site 1/2 hour early.   (Examiners could be running ahead of schedule.  On the other hand, don't arrive too early because they could be running behind; so, also bring a book to read or maybe materials so you can review your theory one more time.) 
  • Take a deep breath, let it out, and remember that your teacher said you are ready to do this!   The examiners just want to be sure that you're ready for the next level!   So, do your very best in the exam room but also show that you love what you do by "performing" every step!   
  • After your "reverence," say thank you to the examiners on your way out of the room!    You will meet them again -- somewhere, sometime -- in your dancing life!
  • Congratulations!    You've shown what you've achieved so far, and you're ready to go on to the next level!
After Certificate Day.
  • The first class after the session, we talk as a class about the experience.    Each student tells what they think they did well, and what they might have done better.
  • Certificates and comments papers are mailed by the ECC Registrar to The Ballet Studio after the end of the entire presentation/exam session.   As soon as  Miss Barbara receives these, she will let you know!
  • Then, we usually go over the results in class (in a general way -- no one is singled out), with explanations given for notations the examiners may have written next to various exercises.   Remember, a dancer never reaches perfection!   We are all, always, a work in progress!
  • Certificates and individual papers are sent home to parents.   Questions, comments?    Talk with Miss Barbara!