About

Fricker/Darby Scholarship

The OLGA FRICKER/SHIELA DARBY Scholarship Fund has been established to help young teachers studying for their Licentiate and Fellowship qualifications. The fund is a fitting tribute to Miss Fricker & Ms. Darby, for they were always ready to give time and knowledge to help the young attain goals they had set for themselves. 

Donations may be sent to:
CecchettiUSA-OF/SD SF
C/O Black Mountain Dance Centre
12285 World Trade Drive, Suite L
San Diego, CA 92128

Olga Fricker 1902-1997Olga Fricker 1902-1997
Olga Fricker, who died on November 20, 1997, played a major role in the struggle to raise the standard of classical ballet teaching in the U.S.A. Born in Canada on July 19, 1902, she started her training in Toronto with Amy Sternberg before moving to the United States in the 1920's. In Detroit Miss Fricker worked with Victoria Cassan, who had been with the Pavlova Company during Enrico Cecchetti's tenure. Later, in the 1930's, Miss Fricker took over the School of Dance at the Civic Theatre and also developed the highly successful Concert Group which performed with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, under Victor Kolar.

Several teachers in the Detroit area then became interested in learning more about the Cecchetti method and on Cyril Beaumont's recommendation, Kate Forbes (then teaching at Vassar University) agreed to coach them. Out of this grew the Cecchetti Council of America, of which Olga Fricker was a Charter Member.

The 1940's were busy years, with Miss Fricker continuing the performances of the Concert Group as well as studying for the final Qualifying Examinations of the Cecchetti Branch of the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing (I.S.T.D.), London. In the early 1950's she established her own school in Detroit and was then commissioned by the City to stage two huge extravaganzas, "City of Freedom" and "Light Up The Land."

In the mid-fifties Olga Fricker settled in Los Angeles where she opened her excellent school on Olympic Boulevard. Among the many fine dancers trained there was Jennet Zerbe, who was later to be chosen to dance the role of Odette at a Royal Ballet School matinee at Covent Garden, before going on to become a soloist with American Ballet Theatre. From her Los Angeles base, Miss Fricker started the first West Coast Cecchetti Summer School; the Cecchetti Ballet Company of student dancers; the Apprentice Group of young semi-professionals; and finally the California Festival Ballet Company.

Olga Fricker's most lasting contribution to the raising of teaching standards in the United States came in 1971 when, together with Lucille McClure and Shiela Darby, she founded the now flourishing Cecchetti USA.

Sheila Darby 1926-2000Sheila Darby 1926-2000
One of the foremost exponets of the Cecchetti Method in America, Sheila Darby, died peacefully on May 22, 2000 at her home, in Sacramento, after a long  battle against cancer.  A close and long-time associate of Olga Fricker, the founder of the Cecchetti Society, Inc. USA, Sheila was tireless in her efforts to raise the standard of classical ballet teaching in her homeland.  Together with Miss Fricker, Sheila ran the Fricker-Darby School of Dance in Los Angeles where they developed a performing group called "The Apprentices" out of which many fine dancers and teachers emerged.  One of their most successful students, Jennet Zerbe, was chosen to dance the role of "Odette" at a Royal Ballet School matineee before going on to become a soloist with American Ballet Theatre.  Sheila Darby's early ballet training was with Maestro del Oro, in San Francisco.  Her advanced study continued under Olga Fricker and later, in England, with Nesta Brooking, Laura Wilson, Nora Roche and Richard Glasstone.  Her initial performing career was with the Mason-Kahn Dancers in San Francisco.  This led to Theatre Wing productions, USO shows, summer stock and the first national tour of "Camelot".  She choreographed numerous shows for Yuba College Theatre productions, as well as special shows for television and various charitable organizations and, together with Miss Fricker, ran the California Festival Ballet Company.  In recent years, Mrs.  Darby was much sought after as a professional coach by young teachers in California and, until a few years ago, she served as Administrator to the Cecchetti Society Inc. USA.  A major international examiner for the Cecchetti Society Faculty of the ISTD and only one of a handful of America teachers to hold the Enrico Cecchetti Final Diploma,  Sheila Darby was awarded the Cecchetti Medal-the Society's highest honour- in 1995 in recognition of her magnificent contribution to the Society's work.  A personal friend of long standing, and an intelligent and elegant lady of great integrity, Sheila Darby will be greatly missed by all who knew her. 
~Richard Glasstone
Printed in September 2000 issue of DANCE, the magazine of the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing.