Paradoxically, the most English of choreographers was born in Ecuador during 1904 and brought up in Peru. There, as a schoolboy, he saw Pavlova dance and, bewitched, found his vocation and lifelong inspiration. Family pressure, though, consigned him first to England to complete his education, then to a job in the City, before he could begin secretly taking ballet classes once a week. By luck, he started with Léonide Massine. When Massine's work took him abroad, he recommended Ashton to continue his studies with Marie Rambert, who also gave him his first opportunities as a choreographer.
A Tragedy of Fashion,
a commission in 1926, was his first ballet to be staged -- as part of a revue entitled Riverside Nights.
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