I found a lot of food for thought here, and much that could be discussed.
With only one exception, that of his English colleague Antony Tudor, no other major ballet choreographer began studying the art at so late an age, and I believe this had a huge effect on Ashton. In his eyes, the academic ballet was in no way old hat, something that needed to be adapted. He had waited for it, longed for it, for years. And so, in his work, the classroom steps are treated like treasured possessions. He can’t stop bringing them out, showing them to us. Temps de flèche, double saut de basque, grand battement en cloche—They are so beautiful, we hear him thinking. Can’t he get just one more in? And he does. No old coot in “Enigma Variations” is so busy with his pipe that he can’t perform a perfect arabesque, atop a bicycle. This is not to say that Ashton didn’t modify the Russian lexicon. He did. He cut it up, elaborated on it. But always, beaming through his personal style, we see the academic steps—isolated, precise, displayed just as themselves, for themselves.