The Dream: Did you know?

08 April 2015 | By Rose Mulready

Our program The Dream, a bill of three ballets by Frederick Ashton, has three distinct moods, a rich history and a few surprises in store. Here are eight fascinating facts about the ballets and the artists involved in them.

Portrait of Erik Satie by Alfred Frueh. Image via

1) Erik Satie, whose hypnotic Gymnopédies are the score for Ashton’s Monotones II, was an eccentric who claimed to eat only white foods (sugar, shredded bones, mouldy fruit) and to dilute his wine with fuschia juice. Of course, we must remember that one of his favourite sayings was “Although our information is inaccurate, we do not guarantee it.”

Image via

2) Frederick Ashton was great friends with the Queen Mother, and enjoyed “zonking martinis” with her after picnics at Sandringham.

Cameron Hunter and Luke Marchant of The Australian Ballet training for The Dream, 2015. Photography Lynette Wills

3) When the rustic Bottom is transformed into a donkey by the mischievous Puck, his hooves are represented by pointe shoes. Our male dancers have been learning all about blisters, Ouch Pouches and ribbon-sewing as they train for the role.

Artist of The Royal Ballet in Frederick Ashton’s Symphonic Variations. Photography Tristram Kenton

4) Symphonic Variations, often spoken of as the height of Ashton’s achievement, was the first ballet he made after returning from service with the RAF in World War II.

Monotones II, 1981. Photography Branco Gaica

5) Monotones II, choreographed in 1965, was inspired by the first journeys into space. The three white bodies of the dancers revolve in the dark like spacecraft in a limitless universe.

Graeme Murphy as Puck, 1969. Photography Hugh Fisher

6) One of Graeme Murphy’s first roles with The Australian Ballet was as Puck in Ashton’s The Dream. Murphy went on to become artistic director of Sydney Dance Company and a world-famous choreographer, who has made Swan Lake, Nutcracker – The Story of Clara and Romeo & Juliet, among other works, for The Australian Ballet.

Portrait of Felix Mendelssohn by Wilhelm Hensel

7) Felix Mendelssohn composed the famous overture to his Incidental Music for A Midsummer Night’s Dream when he was just 17 years old.

Madeleine Eastoe rehearsing The Dream, 2015. Photography Lynette Wills

8) When Ashton died, he left the rights to many of his ballets to his most trusted dancers. The rights to stage The Dream belong to Sir Anthony Dowell, who was Ashton’s first Oberon. Earlier this year, four of our principal artists (Madeleine Eastoe, Adam Bull, Lana Jones and Kevin Jackson), along with our Artistic Associate & Principal Coach Fiona Tonkin, travelled to London to rehearse The Dream with Sir Anthony, who shared his knowledge of Ashton’s original intentions.

See The Dream in Sydney, Adelaide and Melbourne this year. Tickets