Born in Guayaquil, Ecuador, in 1904, Frederik Ashton was the dancer and choreographer who led the Royal Ballet to its esteemed international reputation. While Ashton is thought of as the most English of choreographers, his father was a diplomat in South America; Ashton was born in Ecuador and spent his formative years in Peru. It was while he was at school in Lima that he first saw Anna Pavlova, in 1917. After seeing the renowned ballerina perform, he fell passionately in love with the art.
As a result, his family took him, in the early 1920s, to London, where he studied under the Russian-born choreographer Léonide Massine and the British dancer Marie Rambert.