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These days in October 1979, Freddie is fiercely rehearsing with the Royal Ballet 🩰

Wayne Eagling’s first meeting with Freddie..

In August 1979, Royal Ballet principle Wayne Eagling went looking for a particularly limber star to join their ranks for a charity gala performance. After Kate Bush turned them down, Eagling turned his attention to Freddie Mercury.

Though his initial reaction was less than favorable (β€œI thought they were mad!”), he eventually warmed to the idea after speaking to the head of EMI, Sir Joseph Lockwood, who also happened to be the chairman of the Royal Ballet board of governors. β€œFreddie had a general interest in the ballet, but Lockwood really got him fired up,” said Queen manager John Reid in The Great Pretender. β€œHe was fascinated by the scale. It was epic. And everything about Freddie’s performance was epic.” It was a perfect match.

Wayne said, β€œIt was a wonderful first meeting Freddie turned up wearing tights and ballet shoes. We all took one look at him and nearly fainted. I remember we were in the middle of rehearsing Bohemian Rhapsody, when in walked the choreographer Sir Frederick Ashton.”

He asked me what I was doing , then suddenly scowled at Freddie and demanded in a strangled voice

β€œ AND WHO IS HE β€œ

HomeΒ >Β PUBLIC APPEARANCESΒ >Β Freddie is fiercely rehearsing with the Royal Ballet

A little embarrassed, I replied β€œ He a famous rock star” Ashton looked at Freddie up and down and snapped:

β€œ WELL HE’S GOT TERRIBLE FEET”

β€œPoor Freddie, and I thought he was being rather sweet, trying to point his toes so carefully, but fortunately he thought it was funny.”

Despite Mercury’s athletic performances with Queen, it would take intense rehearsals to get him up to par.

Wayne Eagling

Canadian ballet dancer, now retired. After more than twenty years as a popular member of The Royal Ballet in London, he became well known as an international choreographer and company director

β€œThey (The Royal Ballet) asked me. They actually thought I could dance. So they asked me to do this charity concert. Then I realized, how I could dance. I appreciate their discipline and dedication a hell of a lot. I mean, it’s a different kind of dedication than you have to apply to what I’m doing. I don’t think I could ever do it because it’s like learning someone else’s steps. I do things that I want to do and it’s all very free-form. They had me practicing at the barre and all that, stretching my legs… trying to do things in a week that they’d been doing for years. It was murder. After two days I was in agony. It was hurting me in places I didn’t know I had, dear.”

Freddie Mercury

Freddie made his grand ballet debut on 7 October at London’s Coliseum Theater before 2,500 patrons.

He also met a young man in charge of the Royal Ballet wardrobe named Peter Freestone who Freddie chatted with following his brave performance.

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