Onstage at New York City Ballet, principal Ashley Bouder is known for her explosive jumps and stage presence. Offstage, she's developing directorial skills with The Ashley Bouder Project, a group of fellow NYCB dancers who will perform works by Adriana Pierce, Andrea Schermoly and Joshua Beamish this week. For Pointe's bi-weekly newsletter, we caught up with Bouder via email before her Project's shows at the Joyce Theater's Ballet Festival, Aug. 8-9.
What inspired you to create The Ashley Bouder Project?
I am from a small town, and ballet gave me a career and a life. If I can travel to other small towns and share my love of dance with new audiences, or reach people on their phones and tablets who don't have dance where they live, then I'm doing my part to share ballet. I think my generation is doing great work to further the potential of what ballet can be and the place the arts have in society.
How do you juggle the roles of dancing and directing for this project?
It can be challenging! In addition to working with the collaborators, I am running to costume fittings, coaching the dancers, creating the new works with the choreographers, and then sitting down to dinner with a supporter. All of this on top of an already demanding schedule with New York City Ballet. But I'm lucky to have a great co-producer, Phil Chan. That allows me the time to really work on the artistic quality for each piece.
Much of what you're presenting at the Joyce showcases the work of female choreographers. Why is this important to you?
There is historically a lack of women in positions of power in ballet--except onstage. If the ballet repertory is the creative soul of a dance company, whose stories are we telling? On a more basic level, it's great to collaborate with a female choreographer who knows the female body inside and out, what is possible on pointe, where my weight is, because they have actually lived it.