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Friday Cat Reading

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Balanchine the cat-lover; Ashton the cat-hater.

According to Julie Kavanaugh's biography of Ashton, Secret Muses, Ashton said: "All my life I've hated them and been surrounded by people who adore them. Constant [Lambert] used to have dialogues with stray cats in the street."

Apparently, however, Ashton admired the grace of cats (from a distance). Towards the end of his life he choreographed 'Die verwandelte Katze,' also known as 'La Chatte,' to miscellaneous music by Offenbach. Merle Park was cast as a cat-woman "whose feline habits and arch motif of splayed claws, accompanying a snooty, Les Biches-style walk," corroborate Ashton's dislike of the species.

The ballet was apparently done for a matinee at the Vienna Staatsoper in homage to Fanny Elssler, one of whose famous roles had been the cat in Jean Coralli's ballet 'La Chatte metamorphosee en femme.'

Appaarently La Chatte is revived occasionally. Has anyone ever seen it?

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Appaarently La Chatte is revived occasionally. Has anyone ever seen it?

Not me, although I would love to.

Canary writes:

His ear was chewed of and he had lost an eye in a fight but in spite of his humble background and pathetic appearance he was the gentlest, sweetest, loyal cat I have ever had. He loved music, we have an old vinyl record player and when we placed a record on, or were changing records he'd sit next to it, wagging his tail and purring.When the music sounded he'd miaow along with the tune.

I once acquired an old tom who was obviously a veteran of many battles – he was missing parts of both ears, a chunk of tail, and was heavily scarred and almost toothless to boot. Apart from cat versus cat bellicosity, however, he was a sweetie pie. I deprived him of his manhood, although it pained me to do so, because I didn’t see how he could take much more and his appetite for combat was quite unaffected by age and arthritis. He loved to watch dancing on TV, doubtless because of the movement, and he wouldn’t get bored after a few minutes; he’d sit in front of it for long periods, watching raptly.

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