Sunday, September 14, 2008

Frederick Ashton (1904-1988)

When I was a kid living in London, I remember seeing Frederick Ashton as one of the Ugly Sisters in the Royal Ballet's 'Cinderella'.

I recall two things vividly.

The first was the psychologically complex characterization: the warm, teasing, self-centred, loving, vain, vulnerable, shy, sly, nervous ... monster! In comparison with Robert Helpmann's much more broad-brush-stroke panto creation - as the other sibling. Some of all this is captured in the following photos:

The second occurred at the Ball. Each sister was vie-ing for the tall handsome prince as partner, as opposed to the other short ordinary-looking one. Of course Helpmann's tough and go-getting sister wins out. But then cunningly and placatingly whispers something in her gentler sister's ear - drawing a surreptitious but long glance at the diminutive prince's crotch. With a slow lascivious smile spreading over her face!

After the performance, I was introduced to Ashton and asked him to sign a book I'd just been given about his choreography.

I'm sure he sensed I was gay. And without being able to think just what to say to a young fag, gently declared that it was raining outside and my book would need a mackintosh (raincoat) to get it home safely.


  1. Hi,

    This is not a comment on your article but on this blog. I have not commented before, but I want to say how much I enjoy the variety of sex, culture and intelligent commentary. It is unique. I will keep coming back.


  2. hey terryb/tickleman, very glad you're enjoying the blog. appreciate your remarks. i just visited yours and left a comment - hope you post more - i'll put your blog on mine. take care. nick

  3. Sir Frederick Ashton was a breath of fresh air to the world of dance. He had many detractors but I loved almost everything he did.

    As your previous commenter has pointed out, I too love the mix of haute culture and raw sex here and sincerely wish you the very best. Keep it up and I for one will always keep coming back.

    You, too, are a breath of fresh air in the world of gay blogging.

  4. hey anon

    yep, ashton had detractors - and, as you will know, even had uninspired moments where the dancers working with him had to supply the next bit of the new choreography. but he did wonderful things - lots of them.

    thanks for the appreciation - glad you come by! keep in touch. take care. nick

  5. Yes, I never comment enough on the blogs that I love, but this is a great blog. Thanks for doing it. Quite a touching entry really.

    PS Are you saying he gave you his mac?

  6. hey luke.

    good to hear from you. i remember my very small encounter with ashton with great fondness. no, he just suggested i needed a little book macintosh to keep it dry - such a creative fantasy, to imagine small raincoats being made for books. funny and sweet. on the spur of the moment too. rather than just 'hello' and 'goodbye'.

    hope to hear from you again.