Ashley Bouder on Her Latest Project

 

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.

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Above: Bouder with Amar Ramasar in Joshua Beamish's Rouge et Noir. Photo by Rebekah Spurlock, Courtesy The Ashley Bouder Project.
Ballet Careers
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This is the second in a series of articles this month about ballet siblings.

My mom was in the corps de ballet at American Ballet Theatre. A generation later, so was I. As if that's not enough for one family, my younger sister Isabella Shaker dreams of following in our dancing footsteps. Her endeavor, and her status as somewhat of a child prodigy, stirs feelings of pride and apprehension within me, since I have lived through the ups and downs of this intense yet rewarding career.

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Alicia Alonso with Igor Youskevitch. Sedge Leblang, Courtesy Dance Magazine Archives.

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At eight, Alicia Alonso took her first ballet class on a stage in her native Cuba, wearing street clothes. Fifteen years later, put in for an ailing Alicia Markova in a performance of Giselle with Ballet Theatre, she staked her claim to that title role.

Alonso received recognition throughout the world for her flawless technique and her ability to become one with the characters she danced, even after she became nearly blind. After a career in New York, she and her then husband Fernando Alonso established the Cuban National Ballet and the Cuban National Ballet School, both of which grew into major international dance powerhouses and beloved institutions in their home country. On October 17, the company announced that, after leading the company for a remarkable 71 years, Alonso died from cardiovascular disease at the age of 98.

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