Biography of Frederick Ashton (1906-1988)

Dancer, choreographer, teacher of ballet and artistic director of British origin, born in Guayaquil on September 17, 1904 and died in Suffolk on August 18, 1988, whose real name was William Mallandaine.


Educated in Lima, Ashton began to earn a living as a businessman in an export company in London. Dance studies began in 1924 with Marie Rambert, who commissioned his first choreography, Tragedy of Fashion (Goossens, 1926), on the occasion of the opening of the Riverside Nights at the Lyric Theatre Hammersmith in London Magazine. In 1927, he/she made her debut with the company of Ida Rubinstein, in which he/she remained until 1929, while he/she continued his studies with Léonide Massine and Bronislawa Nijinska.

During this time made other two choreographies for the Ballet Rambert: Nymphs and Shepherds (Mozart, 1928) and Leda and the Swan (Gluck, 1928), who danced with Diana Gould to Sergei Diaghilevwhen it visited the Studio of Rambert in 1928. Also for this company created: Capriol Suite (Warlock, 1930), based on the dances described by Arbeau in his work L'Orchesographie, Mars and Venus (Scarlatti, 1930), Saudade do Brazil (Milhaud, 1930), Florentine Picture (Corelli, 1930), Mercury (Satie, 1931), The Lady of Shalott (Sibelius, 1931), Foyer de Danse (Berners, 1932), Pavane pour une Infante Defunte (Ravel, 1933), Mephisto Waltz (Liszt, 1934) and Valentine completo Eve (Ravel1935).

Also choreographed for the Camargo Society, which commissioned him to façade (Walton, 1931), in which he/she played the role of the Gigolo. In 1933 joined the Vic-Wells Ballet, which was since 1935 stable choreographer and, from 1946, principal choreographer. It happened to Ninette de Valois in the direction of the company, now called the Royal Ballet, between 1963 and 1970, after which he/she continued as founder choreographer of the same. Some of his creations for this company were Les Rendezvous (Auber, 1933), Le Baiser de la fée (Stravinsky, 1935), NAP (Walton, 1936), Apparitions (Liszt, 1936), Nocturne (Delius, 1936), Les Patineurs (Meyerbeer, 1937), A Wedding Bouquet (Berners, 1937), Horoscope (Lambert, 1938), The Judgment of Paris (Berkeley, 1938), Cupid and Psyche (Berners, 1939), Dante Sonata (Liszt, 1940), The Wanderer (Schubert, 1941), The Quest (Walton1941), Symphonic Variations (Frank, 1946), Les Sirènes (Berners, 1946), Valses Nobles et Sentimentales (Ravel, 1947), Don Juan (Strauss, 1948), Scènes de Ballet (Stravinsky, 1948), Cinderella (Prokofiev, 1948), Daphnis and Chloé (Ravel, 1951), Tiresias (Lambert, 1951), Sylvia (Delibes, 1952), Homage to the Queen (Arnold, 1953), Rinaldo and Armida (Arnold, 1955), Madame Chrysanthème (Rawsthorne, 1955), Variations on a Theme by Purcell (Britten, 1955)Birthday Offering (Glazunov, 1956), Ondine (Henze, 1958), La Fille mal Gardée (Herold, 1960), Les Deux Pigeons (Messager, 1961), Persephone (Stravinsky, 1961), Marguerite and Armand (Liszt, 1963), The Dream (Mendelssohn, 1964), created for the IV centenary of the birth of Shakespeare, Monotones (Satie, 1965), Sinfonietta (Williamson, 1967), Jazz Calendar (Bennett, 1968), Enigma Variations (Elgar, 1968), Lament of the Waves (Masson, 1970), The Creatures of Prometheus (Beethoven1970), The Walk to Paradise Garden (Delius, 1972), A Month in the Country (Chopin, 1976), Salut d'amour Margot Fonteyn (Elgar, 1979), specially created for the 60th birthday of the dancer, Rhapsody (Rachmaninov, 1980), Voices of Spring (Strauss, 1981) and La Chatte Métamorphosée on Femme (Offenbach, 1985).

Also was guest choreographer of the Ballets Russes de Monte Carlo, New York City Ballet, for which he/she created Illuminations (Britten, 1950) and Picnic at Tintagel (Bax, 1952), and Royal Danish Ballet, for which he/she choreographed a version of Romeo and Juliet (Prokofiev, 1955). He/She made only the first for Nureyev in the West: Poème Tragique, with music by Scriabin.

He choreographed for the Tales of Hoffmann (1951) film with Léonide Massine, as well as the operas Four Saints in Three Acts (Thomson, 1934), The Fairy Queen (Purcell, 1946), Orpheus and Eurydice (Gluck, 1953) and Death in Venice (Britten, 1973). His last work was an adaptation of the dream of a summer night, at a gala tribute to Ninette de Valois in June 1988.

Causa in music from the University of Oxford (1976) and order of merit (1977) was awarded the title of Knight of the order of the British Empire (1950), Knight of the Legion of honour (France, 1960), Sir (1962), Knight of the Orden de Dannebrog (Denmark, 1964), Dance Magazine Award (1970), Carina Ari Medal of gold (1972), Doctor Honoris.