23 April 2015 at 5.38pm | Comment on this article
‘His ballets are classical and always very beautiful. He would know the music absolutely inside out', says Guest Principal Ballet Master Christopher Carr of working with The Royal Ballet’s Founder Choreographer, Frederick Ashton.
Christopher joined in the company in the late 1960s, dancing in many of Ashton’s ballets. He went on to become a member of The Royal Ballet staff, working closely with Ashton as he developed new works.
'My first meeting with him was when he was creating a ballet called The Creatures of Prometheus', remembers Christopher. 'There was this shy man with no ego at all. He had a lot of self-doubt, which a lot of great artists have. I was told that the anxiety was enormous before he started a creation – you walk in and there's a blank page. You could always feel this energy around him, that you were going to create something wonderful.’
Ashton developed a distinctly English style of ballet and choreographed some of The Royal Ballet’s best loved works, including La Fille mal Gardée, which will be broadcast live to cinemas on 5 May 2015.
One of the choreographer's many contributions to the art form was the Fred Step, a signature step that appears in nearly all his ballets. 'It was a theme step which he saw Anna Pavlova do when he was very young' says Christopher.
Ashton first saw the iconic ballerina perform when he was just 13 years old, and years later remembered that 'from the end of that evening I wanted to dance'. In 1938 he was appointed Principal Choreographer of Vic-Wells Ballet (the predecessor of The Royal Ballet) by Ninette de Valois. Alongside De Valois, he became instrumental in the Company's development and created several works to showcase his muses, including Margot Fonteyn.
‘He would visualize these people doing his steps,' Christopher recalls. ‘He would come in with the music and the shape in his mind he knew he wanted to create. It was a great privilege to dance in his ballets.'
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La Fille mal gardée runs from 27 September–22 October 2016. Tickets are still available.
The production is generously supported by Mrs Aline Foriel-Destezet, the Paul Ferguson Memorial Fund, Sarah and Lloyd Dorfman, Celia Blakey and Marina Hobson OBE and Peter Lloyd.