Ballet Stars

Inside Ashley Bouder's Dance Bag (Hint: It Includes a Whole Lot of Purple)

Photo by Kyle Froman

If you peek inside Ashley Bouder's dance bag, you'll see a whole lot of purple. "It's my favorite color," says the New York City Ballet principal, pointing to her Chacott garbage pants and a special pair of chunky, homemade legwarmers. "I made these after I had my baby, Violet." She also keeps accessories in a purple, elephant-patterned Serengetee pouch. "They have fabrics from all over the world, and part of the profits go to charity," she says. "I like buying something for a good cause."


Bouder's bright red bag also houses lots of balls and therapy tools to help her body get through the day. "I have two types of rollers for my quads and IT bands—one that I can lie on and another that I use with my hands," she says. Her most unusual item, however, is an acupressure mat that's covered in spiky, plastic discs. "It's kind of a torture device, but it increases blood flow," says Bouder, who lies and stands on it after rehearsal. Her friend, National Ballet of Canada principal Jurgita Dronina, recommended it. "She said, 'This will change your life.' And it did!"

Photo by Kyle Froman

The Goods

From top left: mat ("for protecting my back and knees during exercises"); homemade legwarmers; Bloch Inc. custom pointe shoes; Emergen-C packets; pointe shoe glue; scissors; shoe scraper; mints ("Very important—I carry two kinds"); small bag for toe pads, tape and toe spacers; Bbooties (on feet); massage balls; Chacott backwarmer ("It's only half the height of a regular one, so it's low enough to be partnered in. It even helped support my belly when I was pregnant"); The Stick roller; Trigger Point Therapy roller; lamb's wool; rosin; Serengetee pouch; water bottle; MZ Wallace bag; XpresSpa acupressure mat.

The Conversation
Ballet Stars
Angela Sterling, Courtesy PNB

Your teacher at Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, Marcia Dale Weary, recently passed away. What impact did she have on you?

I feel deeply indebted to her. She shaped my life's course, and I know that were it not for her, I would not be living out my dream today. She led by example through her remarkable commitment to her work, as well as her genuine kindness and generosity.

You were a trainee with San Francisco Ballet. What was that experience like?

It was an exposure to different schools of thought. We were mostly in the full-lengths, and watching run-throughs of Sleeping Beauty and Don Quixote was revolutionary for me. But I was young and far away from home. That transition was hard. My body started changing. It wanted to be fleshy. Biology is cruel in that way. I desperately wanted to fit in, but it wasn't meant to be.

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The Royal Ballet's Vadim Muntagirov and Marianela Nuñez in La Bayadère. Photo by Bill Cooper, Courtesy ROH.

Do you ever wish you could teleport to London and casually stroll into The Royal Opera House to see some of the world's best-loved ballets? Well, we have a solution for you: The Royal Ballet's 2018-19 cinema season.

Whether live or recorded, the seven ballet programs listed below, streaming now through next October, will deliver all of the magic that The Royal Ballet has to offer straight to your local movie theater. Can you smell the popcorn already?

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Site Network
Left: Misa Kuranaga in The Veritginous Thrill of Exactitude. Gene Schiavone, Courtesy Boston Ballet. Right: Sasha Mukhamedov in Apollo. Altin Kaftira, Courtesy Dutch National Ballet.

San Francisco Ballet just announced some major news: longtime Boston Ballet star Misa Kuranaga will be joining the company as a principal dancer for the 2019-20 season, while Dutch National Ballet principal Sasha Mukhamedov has been hired as a soloist. They join a slew of newly promoted SFB principals and soloists, announced earlier this year.

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Ballet Stars
Xiao Nan Yu in company class. Aaron Vincent, Courtesy National Ballet of Canada.

On June 22, National Ballet of Canada principal Xiao Nan Yu will retire from the stage after 22 years with the company. Originally from Dalian, China, Yu studied at the Shen Yang School of Dance and the Beijing Dance Academy before coming to Canada's National Ballet School at age 17. She joined the National Ballet of Canada less than two years later, and was promoted to principal in 2001.

"She is a supreme dance actress with an innate ability to bring the audience into her world," says NBoC artistic director Karen Kain. "Nan has always brought such a calm confidence into the studio and has been a role model for so many dancers I will miss her generosity both inside the studio and out." We spoke with Yu as she prepared for her final week of performances. She opened up about her initial culture shock upon moving to Toronto, her thoughts on artistry and why she chose Hanna Glawari in The Merry Widow as her final role.

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