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The eponymous muses were young men many of them dancers who inspired choreographer frederick ashton 1904 88 to create symphonic variations la fille mal gardee and the other works that brought english ballet to a new level of artistry. Secret muses the life of frederick ashton by julie kavanagh is a virtuoso biography of sir frederick ashton britains greatest ballet choreographer synopsis sir frederick ashton britains greatest choreographer was a major figure on the cultural landscape of the twentieth century and his influence extended far beyond the world of dance. The secret muses of the title are a series of younger men with whom ashton formed relationships over the years kavanagh does promote the notion probably formed from reading far more in his correspondence than she reproduces here that ashton seemed to need a certain amount of anguish and unrequitedness in his love life to provoke his creativity. When the preeminent english choreographer and artistic director of the royal ballet frederick ashton 1904 1988 was 13 years old he was overwhelmed by the bravura performance of anna pavlova. Secret muses the life of frederick ashton julie kavanagh frederick ashton one of the greatest choreographers in the history of dance forever changed the landscape of english ballet defining what we now know as the english classical style