Sir Frederick Ashton

Biography

Frederick Ashton created a distinct style of classical ballet imbued with a wonderful sense of musicality and intertwining of steps. Active until his death in 1988 at the age of 83, he created a vast repertoire of ballets which are performed around the world.

Frederick was born in Ecuador in 1905 and was raised in Peru. After moving to England at the age of 18, he began studying with the great dancer and choreographer Léonide Massine and with dancer/teacher Marie Rambert at the Rambert Dance Company. It was Ms. Rambert who discovered Frederick’s talent for choreography and helped him earn his first commission in 1926, A Tragedy of Fashion.

Frederick created hundreds of works, the best-loved being Daphnis and Chlöe, The Two Pigeons, Birthday Offering, La Fille mal gardée, A Month in the Country and Monotones I and II. Toward the end of his life, Frederick embarked on a number of projects, including revivals of his older works, some thought to be lost, including Romeo and Juliet for English National Ballet and Capriole Suite for Sadler’s Wells Royal Ballet. Frederick also revived two of his full-length ballets, Cinderella and Ondine for The Royal Ballet and contributed to Natalia Makarova’s production of Swan Lake for English National Ballet.

Frederick was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1962. In 1970, he was made a Companion of Honour and received the Order of Merit in 1977. He was also made a member of the Legion d'Honneur by the French government, a Commander of the Danish Order of Dannebrog and was awarded the Swedish Carina Ari Gold Medal.

Frederick Ashton died in 1988.