Sir Frederick Ashton


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Ashton, Sir Frederick,

1904–88, British choreographer and dancer, b. Guayaquil, Ecuador. He grew up in Peru and was drawn to dance after seeing (1917) a performance by Anna PavlovaPavlova, Anna Matveyevna
, 1881–1931, Russian ballerina. In 1892 she entered the Imperial Ballet School, St. Petersburg. She made her debut in 1899 at the Maryinsky Theatre, but it was only after tours to Scandinavia (1907) and to Berlin and Vienna (1908) that she gained
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 there. Traveling to London in the early 1920s, he studied dance with Léonide MassineMassine, Léonide
, 1896–1979, American choreographer and ballet dancer, b. Russia. Massine attended the Imperial Ballet School, St. Petersburg, and became principal dancer and choreographer for Diaghilev's Ballets Russes (1914–20) and for the Ballet Russe de
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 and Marie RambertRambert, Dame Marie,
1888–1982, a founder of the English ballet, b. Warsaw as Miriam Rambam. Trained by Jacques Dalcroze in eurythmics, Rambert joined the Diaghilev's Ballets Russes as an instructor in 1913.
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, staged his first work there in 1926, and danced (1928) with Ida Rubinstein's experimental troupe in Paris. Ashton joined the Vic-Wells Ballet, later the Sadler's Wells Ballet (now the Royal BalletRoyal Ballet,
the principal British ballet company, based at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, London. It is noted for lavish dramatic productions, a superbly disciplined corps de ballet, and brilliant performances from its principals.
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), in 1935 as chief choreographer, and later became associate director and then director of the company. Many of his ballets were created for its prima ballerina, Margot FonteynFonteyn, Dame Margot
, 1919–91, English ballerina. Fonteyn was for many years prima ballerina assoluta of the Royal Ballet. Her original name was Margaret Hookham.
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. Ashton is largely responsible for the elegantly reserved style of English classical dance, and his mature works are noted for their lyricism, quiet charm, wit, and precision. They include abstract ballets, such as Symphonic Variations (1946), Scènes de Ballet (1948), and Monotones (1965–66); short dramatic works, such as Daphnis and Chloë and Tiresias (both 1951); and full-length traditional story ballets, such as Cinderella (1948), Sylvia (1952), Ondine (1958), and The Dream (1964). His last major works as a choreographer were La Chatte Metamorphosée en Femme (1985) and Fanfare for Elizabeth (1986). He also appeared as a dancer in comedy and character roles. He was knighted in 1962.

Bibliography

See biographies by D. Vaughan (1977) and J. Kavanagh (1997).

References in periodicals archive ?
Next up is Five Brahms Waltzes, a piece created by Sir Frederick Ashton in homage to the American-born pioneer of modern dance, Isadora Duncan.
This amazing gala night celebrated the centenary of two choreographers, George Balanchine and Sir Frederick Ashton, two geniuses who took dance in both Britain and America to heights which have rarely been equalled since.
Pelly counted among his friends John Lanchbery, Sir Frederick Ashton, Dame Margot Fonteyn, Rudolf Nureyev, Carla Fracci, Dame Alicia Markova, and Maina Gielgud.
Three years later she opened what would become a highly influential ballet school and her students included such dancers and choreographers as Sir Frederick Ashton, Anthony Tudor and John Kranko.
Schaufuss's plans for the future include a centenary tribute to Sir Frederick Ashton in 2004: "Something special, something a little out of the ordinary, just like our school is now doing Nursery Suite," he promises.
The variations themselves grow out of a sad, reflective melody heard at the beginning, turning to triumph only in the concluding sound-picture of Elgar himself (what a wonderful moment that made in the nostalgic ballet Sir Frederick Ashton created out of the score).
A former Royal principal dancer, she was named assistant director to Anthony Dowell in 1991 and has long been associated with the Sir Frederick Ashton and Sir Kenneth MacMillan repertoires.
The repertoire includes 136 works by Sir Frederick Ashton, George Balanchine, August Bournonville, Erik Bruhn, Jack Carter, John Cranko, Michel Fokine, Choo-San Goh, Saeko Ichinohe, Alun Jones, Kurt Jooss, Jose Limon, Eugene Loring, David Parsons, Domy Reiter-Soffer, Paul Taylor, and Antony Tudor.
Anniversaries: 1631: Birth of poet John Dryden; 1871: Birth of American aviation pioneer Orville Wright:1929; Death of ballet director and choreographer Sergei Pavlovich Diaghilev; 1934: German plebiscite gave sole power to Adolf Hitler; 1936: Death of Spanish poet Federico Garcia Lorca; 1942: British and Canadian commandos raided Dieppe; 1942: Montgomery became commander of the British Eighth Army in North Africa; 1953: Len Hutton's England side recaptured the Ashes at The Oval after a gap of 19 years; 1977: Death of American comedian Groucho Marx; 1987: Michael Ryan shot dead 16 and wounded 14 people in Hungerford, Hertfordshire; 1988: Death of choreographer Sir Frederick Ashton.
His artistic influences include Sir Frederick Ashton and Fred Astaire, MGM musicals and Hitchcock's mastery of psychological suspense, which are all much in evidence in Swan Lake, with its smooth flow, as well as the highs and lows, of a big showy musical.
And nowadays looking at the repertoire, there are two choreographers never really associated with the company, John Cranko and, rather unexpectedly, Sir Frederick Ashton.
She was an enormous ballet fan, and Sir Frederick Ashton was a close friend.