The Australian Ballet

10 reasons to see The Dream/Marguerite and Armand

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Dimity Azoury and Callum Linnane, The Dream (Ashton), 2023
Photo Simon Eeles

Discover the fascinating history behind Frederick Ashton’s majestic choreography as The Australian Ballet prepares to bring two classic tales to Sydney Opera House this November.


Frederick Ashton

1. Ashton style

Frederick Ashton is credited with creating the English style of ballet which was distinct for its épaulement (the way the head and shoulders are held) and elegance.

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Rudolf Nureyev and Margot Fonteyn, Marguerite and Armand (Ashton), 1963
Photo Anthony Crickmay

2. Star Power

Marguerite and Armand was created for Rudolf Nureyev and Margot Fonteyn in 1963. It was deemed untouchable by any other dancer… that is, until Sylvie Guillem accepted the role of the dying courtesan in 2000, bringing new life to the ballet with her unique style.

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Kevin Jackson and Chengwu Guo, The Dream (Ashton), 2015
Photo Daniel Boud

3. Legendary literature

The Dream is adapted from William Shakespeare’s famous romantic comedy A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

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Production poster for La Dame aux Camélias 1896, starring actress Sarah Bernhardt
Image Alphonse Mucha (cc)

4. Marguerite and Armand is based on a true story

The ballet is based on the novel and play La Dame aux Camélias (The Lady of the Camellias) by Alexandre Dumas and is a semi-autobiographical account of his love affair with the courtesan Marie Duplessis.

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Artist of the Australian Ballet, The Dream (Ashton), 2015
Photo Lisa Tomasetti

5. A dancing donkey on pointe

The role of Bottom in The Dream is one of the few male roles danced en pointe.


Margot Fonteyn Marguerite and Armand (Ashton), 1963
Photo ©ROH

6. Passionate choreography

Margot Fonteyn, who originated the role of Marguerite recalled the intensity of the choreography, claiming that the tragic love story was “a passion more real than life itself”.

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Amy Harris and Callum Linnane, Marguerite and Armand (Ashton), 2023
Photo Simon Eeles

7. Hidden flowers

If you look closely at Marguerite’s costumes, you’ll notice a camelia on her dress and in her hair.

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Artists of The Australian Ballet, Marguerite and Armand (Ashton), 1969
Photo Johansen Krause

8. Whimsical design

David Walker’s mesmerising costumes for The Dream are a reflection of his unique ability to merge practicality with picturesque fantasy.


9. Happy birthday William!

The Dream was originally presented to mark the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s birth.


Frederick Ashton with Margot Fonteyn and Rudolf Nureyev, 1962
Photo ©ROH

10. The highest honour

Choreographer Frederick Ashton was so prolific he even has own step named after him! “Posé en arabesque, coupé dessous, petit développé à la seconde, pas de bourrée dessous, pas de chat” (technical description of the “Fred step”).

You can watch The Australian Ballet's Sharni Spenser learn “The Fred Step” from Ashton repetiteur Christopher Carr in 2015.

The Fred Step

For more information about the upcoming production of The Dream/Marguerite and Armand and to book tickets

The Dream / Marguerite and Armand