The instagram video of Ashley Bouder performing multiple pirouettes while 6 months pregnant may seem extraordinary to us mortals, but it’s par for the course for her. Ashley is known for her quick-footed and explosive dancing ability, and sometimes her falls – affectionately known as the ‘Bouder falls’ – because it’s impossible to defy gravity so spectacularly without taking a tumble once in a while. Her high-octane onstage persona is just as much a reflection of what she’s like offstage: as someone who confesses to hating boredom and sitting still, it’s no wonder that Ashley wouldn’t let a mere thing like an impending baby impede her from continuing life at her high-octane pace. Maybe, and only maybe, motherhood may slow her down a little. But knowing Ashley Bouder, she’ll be flying high again soon. And with a mini-Bouder in tow, that means we’ll have to brace ourselves for 2 Bouders hurtling along at breakneck speed.
C&V SESSIONS WITH ASHLEY BOUDER
What did you have for breakfast?
I had a cup of coffee and 3 Girl Scout cookies. They were trefoils; the shortbread ones.
You are pregnant with a baby Bouder in the oven. Are you still keeping very active with ballet despite your pregnancy?
I’m still taking class every day and I run on the elliptical every day, between 3 and 5 miles. I also do exercises to keep my back and my turnout muscles and everything like that going, so that when I give birth I can just come back to ballet just like that.
All the repertory I do is really difficult, and I’ve had major injuries where I’ve had to come back from nothing to go to that difficulty level. The thought of having to do that again is more terrifying than going to the gym!
Fortunately, NYCB has just opened up a gym in the theatre. So I take class, have a little 15 minute break and then I do the elliptical and my exercises there at the theater. All the dancers are around and I don’t feel like I’m going to the gym with normal people.
How long will you keep dancing for?
Right until the due date, right until I give birth unless my doctor tells me not to. But right now I’m 6 and a half months pregnant and everything feels great. I’ll probably be taking class in the morning of the day I give birth!
So the pregnancy has been going pretty well for you – no morning sickness and fatigue, things like that?
Well the first trimester I was very,very tired and I had a little bit of morning sickness. I did Swan Lake at 8 weeks pregnant, which was really difficult and I wouldn’t recommend it.
In my next pregnancy, I will try not to do a full-length ballet while pregnant! The shorter ballets are ok, you can get through them. The full-lengths were very difficult, and it was very difficult mentally to keep myself going. Overall I’ve had a really great pregnancy, pretty easy and I can pretty much do what I want.
I read an article where you said that even if you were pretty fatigued offstage, once you got onstage and started performing it was easy for you. But the pregnancy sort of negated your adrenalin?
When you get pregnant you’re not allowed to take advil or rub Votaren cream or any of these things. So all of these things I used to have at my disposal to make my body feel better, I didn’t have. And changing my diet too a little bit – it was a little more difficult to figure out what to eat.Being onstage and being like, ‘you need to take it easy, you’re pregnant,’ is not a mindset I’m used to having.
I had to pull it back a lot. I’m usually more than a 100%; I’m like 1000%! I do what I want, I push as hard as I want and I deal with the consequences after the show.
I take care of myself, ice my injuries – but when you’re pregnant you can’t do it. You don’t have all of your tools to do that.
I had to rely on rest time, which at the NYCB is not something we really have!
How has been like dancing while pregnant, technically? I would imagine your center changes, and you have to get used to gradually gaining more weight in certain areas. Was it difficult to adjust to?
Not at first. Your center of balance is higher at first, because the bump is up. At the very beginning I didn’t gain too much weight. At 12 weeks I hadn’t even gained 5 pounds so it wasn’t that big a difference. Now, when I take class having gained 15 pounds and just in the middle – everything else is completely the same – it’s really bizarre.
There are some things that I can do which are fine, and other times I go up to do a turn and I just fall over because I’m not used to it.
Yeah I would imagine turns would be hard to do when you’ve got weight in a different place.
Yeah but some turns are really good! Like a back attitude turn. Because your tendency is to be back already but the bump puts you forward – so I can just sail around. For me, that was not one of my more comfortable turns. I would prefer to do fouettes or pique turns. I don’t think anybody really likes back attitude turns, but now I can do them because the weight’s in the right place.
So that’s the secret to mastering back attitude turns – get pregnant and do them!
Yeah, strap some weights in front of you.
Ashley performing fouettes in class while 6 months pregnant.
Credit: Ashley’s instagram
And the increased weight on your ankles during pointe work and all that – that must be tricky.
The pointe work is getting a little heavy so I have to be careful not to do too much. And now my feet are swelling so I’ve had to order bigger pointe shoes!
I also stopped jumping a few weeks ago at the insistence of my physical therapist. I was really trying to maintain my jump but both my husband and my physical therapist told me to stop. Of course I didn’t listen to my husband, I listened to my therapist! She didn’t like what it was doing to my back. And I’ve had some back injuries, so since my back is fine now let’s keep it that way.
For any career woman, the decision to start a family is a big deal – more so in ballet. It’s almost like time is of the essence when you’re a dancer. You’ve mentioned pushing through injuries because it would be an inopportune time to have surgery and take time off. How much did your career weight into your decision to start a family?
It actually weighed a lot into my decision. I’m over 30 years old, I’ve always wanted to have children and have a family. I wanted to be able to have a baby and come back and dance still at the peak of my career, instead of waiting a bit longer and coming back maybe not as good – maybe losing my jump or having it really affect me because my body is older and can’t recover.
My husband and I decided this was probably a really opportune time. I feel great about my dancing, I feel like I’m still at the top of my technical game and will be able to bounce back.
If we have another baby, I don’t think I’ll mind letting the technique slip a little because I’ll be much older.
But it did weigh a lot of my mind and I wanted to have children while I was still dancing. I don’t want to retire until I’m at least 40 and I would like the opportunity to have more than one child without complications and all of that, or run into the ‘I don’t have any more eggs left’ thing – any problem that may happen because of my age, and not have the opportunity have children.
You don’t have to tell me which it is, but do you know the sex of the baby?
Oh yeah, it’s a girl! I was excited, my husband was a little disappointed, haha!
Girls are better anyway!
I think so!
Your husband is not a dancer.
No. But he’s got some moves on the dance floor!
Did you have to educate him on ballet when you guys started going out?
He had a lot of friends from ABT that he knew for a decade, before we met. And he’s been to the ABT and the NYCB a few times. I’m not sure how much he really, really knew about it, but since we got together he’s at the ballet all the time – he knows almost as much as we do now about the pieces we’re doing, things like that. He’s really interested!
You’re not performing in NYCB’s Winter season. You’re someone who has a lot of energy, but are you taking things easy now, or looking for other avenues to fulfil your need to keep going?
I was very nervous about being bored, so I reached out to a lot of my friends about teaching. I teach one or twice a week at Ballet Academy East here in NYC and I’m choreographing a piece for their intermediate students for some shows. I’ve been teaching at Manhattan Youth Ballet for Daniel Ulbricht when he can’t teach on Thursdays, and I teach at the School of American Ballet when they need teachers.I’ve been doing a lot of private lessons too. So I’m actually super busy.
And I can say yes to all my social obligations now, so I feel like my calender is more full than usual. I’m usually like class-rehearsal-performance-home, and my calendar is always empty because I know I’m going to be at the theater. But now I actually get to see my friends!
Is choreography something you might explore more?
I don’t know if I’m creative in that way. It’s different choreographing on these students I’ve taught before – choreographing to their level and things they look good doing and need to work on – it’s a very functional piece, for them to learn and to grow into dancers. It’s not something particularly creative, new or inspiring.
I think I’m a better interpreter of what choreographers give us. I enjoy that much more than having to come up with a whole ballet or something!
You grew up training at the Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet. Do you think you would go there and teach during your downtime?
Maybe. There are some people from ABT and NYCB who do that. They haven’t asked me, but I would. I have a house there with my mother, and my sister and her kids are there. So I go back to visit a lot, and sometimes I take class there.
What was it like training there? You’ve mentioned that your teacher had a certain philosophy – no competitions, things like that.
It was very intense. We did 18 ballet classes a week, and I did a full day of school as well.I was there until 9 O’clock every week night, I was there on Saturdays from 9 or 10 in the morning to 7.30 at night, every week without fail. If you missed a class, you had to make it up – if you missed an hour and a half class, you had to take two one hour classes to make it up.
You couldn’t wear makeup, nail polish or earrings that dangled. No talking in class or you get kicked out. It was incredibly strict – but you look at every dancer who came out and they’re just the strongest technicians and absolutely incredible.
And it really is how you’re supposed to act in the ballet studio. You’re not supposed to talk in class, you’re not supposed to have all these embellishments – that’s for performance. Class is for technique and building things. It taught us discipline, to hunker down and work on what we needed to work on.
Ashley Bouder in Donizetti Variations.
Credit: Paul Kolnik
Did you feel that it was good to solely focus on dance itself, instead of worrying about having to prepare for a variation or a competition?
I think so. The training there is so good that you don’t need the opportunities that something like YAGP would provide for you. Students from schools who don’t have great training but have a lot of potential – I judge YAGP and I was sitting next to the man who runs the Harid Conservatory. They offer scholarships to students who have potential – not the best ones in the competition, but the ones who have potential.
So for that opportunity, competitions are good. But for my school, competitions did not anything for us. Preparing for them would have taken away from our training.
What about the performance aspect – being on stage and dealing with nerves. Was that ever an issue for you?
It did become an issue at some point in my career. I mean, I would start off really nervous but when I got onstage it would all melt away. It got to a point where I was very confident in what I was doing. Because my repertory is so difficult, there wasn’t a part that phased me – ‘ooh this is so difficult’ – because they were all like that. So it just became normal. Even with the most difficult variations, if I liked the musical timing or that was a step in there that I really liked, I would get so excited to get on stage and kill it and enjoy myself.
But I had a lot of injuries in a row, and I hadn’t danced to for a couple of years at my peak – I kept trying to dance but I had an ankle injury, then a back injury and then a knee injury… I got irrationally nervous for things and it didn’t help me dance my best. I was always sort of, ‘ don’t hurt yourself!’.
Well, that’s understandable.
Yeah. And it took me a while to get over that. But I feel like for the past 2 years I’m finally back to the way I felt when I first got promoted principal – when I was 21 and I felt like I could do anything.
I guess that’s the thing – when you do overcome something it makes you stronger and informs your future experiences.
Yeah, I stopped being afraid at some point again.
You do seem like a pretty fearless dancer. You have the infamous ‘Bouder falls’ because you just go so full on.
I go 1000%. And sometimes that 1000% ends up on the floor!
It’s funny, because I’ve never hurt myself falling. I’ve had some pretty epic spills – belly flop, or sliding across my butt on center, or taking down my partner – but have never hurt myself because I’m so full out and I surprise myself so much that there’s no time to do anything. Just get up and be like, ‘sorry!’
And I’ve always had the attitude that it can’t get worse from here. So as soon as I fall, I go like, ‘well now that’s out of the way! Now we can get up, now we’re fine, now we did the fall.’
I know I’ve fallen a lot in debuts. But because I was so energetic and so excited, I preferred just to fall. Then I can continue and be normal.
That’s interesting, because so many dancers are afraid to fall. They think that they’ve ruined the ballet if they fall.
I think it makes people stumble a bit more. When I judge YAGP, I see that a lot. I see that fear in them. Kind of like, ‘auugh!’ when they slip a little.
I’ve never had that instinct, I’ve always been like, ‘ooh, that was bad!’ and then whatever.
I think some of the most exciting times I’ve had on stage is during some epic fall or slip, or when something happens. Because you know that you gave everything you had, and that you really enjoyed what you were doing. ‘I was so excited that I knocked myself over.’
And to me, that’s why you do it. You have this huge passion and huge love for what you do that you literally put everything you have into it. And sometimes it’s too much!
Was there any fears of repercussions from your artistic director because of that? I know that’s a legitimate worry for professionals – that if they fall they might not get cast in the next show or dance this role again.
There was a point where I had a string of falls right in a row, and Peter said some pretty funny things to me. He just goes, ‘really?’
I fell on tv once, when we were filming live –
Yes. And he was like, ‘of course you fell on tv, when we can’t do anything about it.’ And I was like, ‘sorry. But I did a really big jump before that!’
There was one funny one in particular. I was doing the Russian girl in Serenade. And in the elegy, you run and jump from far away and land on the back of the guy. So I ran towards Ask LaCour, who’s nearly a foot taller than me. When I stepped to jump, I skidded. I felt like I was on an oil spill because a lot of wax on the floors backstage had got onto the stage. And I was skidding but I jumped in a backbend, because the guy catches you upside down.
And Ask said he looked at me and thought, ‘I can not catch her and let her head smack on the floor, or I can catch her – but I’ll have to go down with her.’
He was very nice and opted to catch me, but that meant he fell on top of me. And somehow my skirt flew up, and he’s in my skirt and he couldn’t get out of it!
So there’s just the two of us rolling around, and the other two couples were just standing at the side looking at us. It was the only thing happening on stage and it took us a while to get up. Then I did my pique arabesque and ran around. But it was his debut and he forgot the step! So he looked at me and I was like, ‘RUN AROUND!’
And Peter said to me afterwards, ‘well it’s not that you fall on your debuts – you take someone else out on theirs?’ He was joking and laughing, and I found it so funny.
But there’s usually no repercussions, I usually get a laugh and a smart comment.
I guess what people can say is that it’s always exciting watching an Ashley Bouder performance. It’s a 1000% performance, and sometimes it’s a little bit more!
Yes, exactly! Something you didn’t pay for.
Ashley Bouder in Stars and Stripes.
Credit: Mark Olich
What’s it like working with Peter Martins?
I really enjoy working with him. I get along with him really well. When you first get into the company, he’s really intimidating. He’s this big man and he has this deep voice with a strong Danish accent – if you’re not used to it, you can’t quite understand what he’s saying sometimes. It takes a while to get used to it.
But I think he’s great. He’s done a wonderful job – the company is still thriving and he brings in so many interesting choreographers that we all want to work with. He has a great artistic vision.
And it’s also really great working with him personally on a new ballet. He’s really nice. I know a lot of people think that he’s not. But he is, and he lets you have some say in what you’re doing. If you really hate something he’s choreographed or a step, he’ll go, ‘what do you want to change it to?’
And maybe he’ll say yes and maybe he’ll say no, but he’s kind of flexible and nice that way.
It’s always exciting when he gets in the studio to work with you. He also takes a lot of pleasure in working on the finer points of the full lengths – all that pantomime and so on – because that was really big in the Danish school. He grew up that way.
I also find it easy to walk into his office and talk to him. He’s not one of those directors where you have to formally make an appointment.
When I got pregnant, the last thing I did was Sugarplum. My ballet master, Richard Tanner, was out of town the whole week before my performance, so I had no one to rehearse me. Peter knew he was gone, so he came to every one of my rehearsals – he was my coach – just to make sure I was fine.
Like every director, he can yell at the dancers and be mad about something, but that’s not very often.
How did you get selected to be an apprentice? I heard it can be quite a tense wait because Peter Martins selects his dancers last versus other directors who watch the SAB workshops.
The process is different every year for every year. Nowadays, he usually selects them to start in the fall, and they’ll tell you in May or June, if you’re going to start at the end of August.
But I had a very unique experience. I came to SAB when I was 15 and only spent 9 months in the school before I got my apprenticeship. I did the end of year workshop and everything. But when the school had meetings to tell the students where to audition in the summer or what companies the school thinks they should audition for in audition season, I was the only student who didn’t have a meeting. So I went to one of my teachers, asked when I was supposed to do and where I was supposed to audition for. And she looked at me like I was nuts, and she was like, ‘don’t you know you’re getting in the company?’
And I was like, ‘oh…well I should go audition somewhere.’
And she said, ‘no. You’re going to be in Saratoga with the company.’
I had just turned 16, so I was like, ‘oh…er, okay.’
And I of course didn’t believe them, so I went to audition for a few places. But I learnt that I was doing Stars & Stripes for the end-of-year workshop – so I was doing the big lead in the last ballet, and that I had won the Wien award, which they give to the most promising students that year. And the night that I won the award, which was on a Monday, they told me and another girl that we were apprentices and would start at NYCB on Friday.
I literally started 4 days after I graduated from SAB.
Was it very competitive in SAB? I imagine everyone wants to get to NYCB but places are so few.
Not very many girls in my level liked me; but they were also 2 or 3 years older than me. So even in the beginning of the year I was not very popular in my class.
Everybody in SAB is hoping to get into NYCB. And every single class is an audition, basically – any moment Peter Martins could walk into the door to look in at any class. So you do have that tense atmosphere.
In my particular class, there were 5 or 6 of us who were very serious, and the rest of them were much older – about 18 – and they were all going to college. They had been in SAB their entire lives and were not planning on joining NYCB. But out of the 5 or 6 of us, there was pretty stiff competition. And every single one of us got into companies somewhere. One girl – Amy Watson – is actually the principal dancer at the Royal Danish Ballet.
So it was a pretty accomplished batch of students.
Yeah, and on the boys side, Amar Ramasar and Andrew Veyette were in my class. They’re now principals with the NYCB.
The New York Times did an interview with you when you were 18, and the article opened with you talking about your love of French fries. Are you still a fan of the deep-fried potato?
Oh yes I am. You can ask my husband. I love French fries.
(Peter: She does!)
In that interview, the writer notes that you told him, ‘I eat what I want’ with a mixture of ‘innocence and defiance.’ The issue of weight is still such an elephant in the room when it comes to ballet.
Oh absolutely. One of my colleagues was just talking about how NYCB posted a picture of her in one of the new costumes and people were commenting, ‘this dancer is anorexic, I can’t believe you support this blah blah blah.’
And NYCB erased those comments because that dancer is not anorexic at all. She’s a principal dancer who is very healthy and very thin. And the woman said, ‘why did you erase my comments, this is still an issue.’
And it is still an issue, just not in that form. For me personally, because of my repertory and the repertory of NYCB – the athleticism of it and the strain of the schedule – we do 7 shows a week, 4 to 6 weeks at a time, 30 to 40 ballets. If you didn’t eat and you didn’t eat properly, you wouldn’t survive the schedule. Your bones would break and your muscles would tear. There’s no way you can survive that schedule and dance in top form, or even badly.
When I’m dancing a lot I tend to crave protein. I’m very conscious of what I eat at night to prepare for the next day. If I have a very hard day the next day or a matinee show – my energy tends to dip at about 2pm, right in the middle of the matinee – I will eat a big bowl of pasta at night because it takes much longer to digest. So when the energy from the pasta hits my body, it’s not going into me as fat – I’m using it to dance and get through my day.
So I’m conscious of that, but at the same time we have to be conscious of not losing too much weight in the middle of the season. Because we go so hard and it’s so easy to not pay attention to that.
A lot of girls get really skinny by the end of the season, and you’re like, ‘go eat a hamburger!’
And they’re like, ‘I am!’
And while dancers really are fine, unhealthy dancers also pretend they’re fine. So if you’re healthy it can be frustrating, isn’t it – having to constantly reassure the public that you’re fine.
It is frustrating when people start to attack you in that way and you have to defend yourself. But I think what people have to remember is that we are exercising 12 hours a day. We’re doing anaerobic exercise. When you run a ballet, it’s comparable to high-intensity interval training, which is for weight loss. There are methods of exercising that encourage weight loss, and sometimes ballet just does that.
Dancers are of course trying to be slim and have this body image, but there’s also not a whole lot you can do when you’re dancing and have to gain weight if you need to. Sometimes the weight it drops off and it doesn’t mean you’re unhealthy. It means the workload is too much at that time.
Some of the ballets in NYCB are so high-tempo. The performances and rehearsals must be really taxing.
Yeah. Some of it is wildly high-tempo, and you have keep up and your body has to do it. But it makes you lose weight. It also makes you really hungry, which we take advantage of too!
Sometimes we go to our favourite bar and order burgers and beer. Or we order pizza after a show at midnight, and eat 3 slices each. It’s not that we don’t have terrible eating habits sometimes that should make us gain weight, it’s just we have the opportunity to work all of that off.
Do you have to worry how, say, a burger and beer would affect your performance the next day?
Not like, a burger and a beer, but 5 drinks maybe! When I go out drinking, I usually drink wine. And for every glass of wine I have a glass of water as well, to rehydrate. And I make sure I get up in the morning and drink water, and drink water before bed.
But yeah, it can actually affect you. We all make mistakes and do that.
Sometimes you just gotta eat the pizza. That’s my philosophy.
There was some controversy with the illustrations used for NYCB’s marketing materials. You and Sara Mearns addressed it in a very concise manner without directly addressing it – by having the side-by-side comparisons of the illustrations of the drawing and the yourselves in the pose that inspired the picture. I thought it was a clever way of making a statement without criticising the artist and NYCB. Was that deliberate?
Yeah. Sara and I talked about it a little bit. She was more upset about it than I was, but she wasn’t as upset as some of the other dancers. When the pictures came out they were very shocking. They looked like the bad stereotype of dancer we’ve been trying to avoid forever.
It made the burden on us harder, in that respect – with people attacking us personally or attacking ballet in general. So we felt like we needed to respond – you know, they were calling dancers unhealthy and anorexic. Those illustrations were perpetuating a stereotype that we were trying to eradicate. It was very upsetting to most of the members of NYCB.
Having said that, we’re kind of used to them now as they’ve been out for a while. But in posting the side-by-side comparisons, that’s exactly what I’m doing – commenting without commenting. I don’t need to say anything, you obviously know I’m not thrilled about being drawn that way – especially on the side of our theater.
But I’ve had a lot of people say that they just really love them. And maybe as dancers we’re looking at it in a very defensive way. ‘Oh my God, they’re making us look anorexic.’ Maybe for some people, that’s not what they even see when they look at it – they see this fashion portrait.
Ashley Bouder and Amar Ramasar in Acheron
Credit: Paul Kolnick
I guess for dancers, the issues of body image and eating disorders are so enmeshed in ballet that you do want to send out the message that this type of body is not ideal.
Yeah, and that was the initial reaction of all of the dancers. ‘How could you do this to us? We’ve been fighting this forever.’
Yeah, and if you look at NYCB dancers – you guys have so much muscle!
Yeah! We look very athletic, compared to the Russians or the European companies, or probably any other company. We are just more muscular. It’s not that we’re bigger, but we’re just built differently. We’re all pretty ripped over here!
You have a lot on your plate – besides your regular seasons with the NYCB, you guest and perform at galas, teach and you have the Ashley Bouder project. How much do you take on because you want to do it, and how much because you have to – maybe for financial or career reasons.
I like doing the galas. When you do them you build up this network of friends from all around the world that you only get to see when you do galas. So everytime I get an opportunity to do a gala I say yes, because I want to see who’s there – people who I haven’t seen for a long time. It’s really nice to have friends in the dance world who aren’t in my company.
And guesting with other companies, I like that too because it’s like going into a family for a couple of weeks and seeing how other people do the same thing you do. I’ve been to Rome Opera Ballet 4 or 5 times and I enjoy that – it’s like a second company home.
The Ashley Bouder project was something I want to experiment with and create. My co-producer had been pushing me to go into that, and I finally relented, and I’m glad I did and will continue doing these things. Obviously right now I’m taking a break from it but I may have some new projects next year.
I take everything on because I want to and because I like it. Not because it’s going to push my career. The money for gala and guestings is very nice, but it’s also a good use of my free time away from NYCB. To get those experiences adds so much more to my dancing at NYCB.
Having said that though, I do take on too much sometimes and get exhausted! I don’t like to have time off and I find it hard to say no to things because they sound exciting to me!
You’re also doing a political science degree. How do you manage to squeeze in time for that?
I do one class at a time – I’m nowhere near finished! And right now I can’t do anything because the baby is due before the end of the semester so I wouldn’t have been able to take my finals! I would have loved to take this time to do 3 or 4 courses and just bang them out.
I’m plugging away slowly and find time to do one course, sometimes two, but it’s difficult. You have to really sacrifice time with friends for that.
I feel like I have to give you a high-five because I graduated in political science too.
So as a student of political science, do you have a preferred candidate?
I really like Hillary Clinton.
Speaking of strong women like Hillary, as a principal dancer who’s achieved so much in her career what keeps you motivated?
I always think there’s something more you can do with a role. Technically there’s always something to work on, obviously but there’s so much more artistically that you can do with something. There are some roles that I’ve done for a decade or more, some roles that I get to revisit. I’m not the same person I was when I first did them, or when I danced 5 years ago. So to bring something different to those roles is really interesting..
Sometimes I think, ‘why did I do that? I don’t like that version of that.’
As opposed to doing something new all the time, it’s interesting for to change what I’ve done before.
I also get inspired by all the younger dancers. I see them doing soloist parts and stuff that I did, and it’s fun to watch what they do with those roles versus what I did with them, watch them grow and see how much they surprise you.
I kind of feed into that energy in their dancing.
What’s been the proudest moment of your career so far?
Oh I don’t know!
Yeah. My first full-length debut was when I was 20 years old. I did Sleeping Beauty. That was one of the more spectacular moments of my life. I cried before I went onstage because it dawned on me that I was carrying a whole ballet now – and not just a whole ballet, but a whole evening.
And if I didn’t do well, then the whole evening would be ruined for those thousands of people who paid for tickets to come see me. Being able to tackle that and do it well was a huge accomplishment for me.
And each full-length ballet and character I’ve taken on has been a mini-triumph. Understanding the character enough to tell the story the way you want – those are some of my proudest moments.
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Original header image: NYCB.