Ashley Ellis in Mikko Nissinen's The Nutcracker (photo by Liza Voll, courtesy Boston Ballet)

Boston Ballet Prima Ashley Ellis Writes a Letter to Her Teenage Self

Boston Ballet principal Ashley Ellis' dancing is the perfect pairing of ethereal grace and punchy musicality. The Torrance, CA, native began training at South Bay Ballet at age 6, and attended the School of American Ballet summer program in 1998. In 2001, she was accepted into American Ballet Theatre's Studio Company, and the following year, she joined ABT's corps de ballet. In 2007, she became a founding member of Corella Ballet Castilla y León in Spain, under the direction of Angel Corella. Three years later, she headed back to the States and danced with Sarasota Ballet before joining Boston Ballet as a second soloist in 2011. In 2013, she was promoted to principal dancer. Catch her performing this season in the company's Nutcracker. —Courtney Bowers


To my younger self,

You have great things awaiting you, and the most wonderful and exciting thing is that you could never have planned exactly how it will all happen. While you embark on your exciting journey, I have a few tips and thoughts to share with you.

Don't be afraid to go for it—all of it. Everyone tells you to, but you tend to be hesitant. There's no need. Going for things now will only give you more time to enjoy dance once you've realized all that you're able to do. Remember that just because you're kind doesn't mean you're not strong. Everyone has something special to offer and you should be confident in your strengths.

At age 15 at American Ballet Theatre's summer intensive (photo by Rosalie O'Connor, courtesy Ellis)

When you're feeling down, try hard to focus on what makes you happy, and think of how you can improve your situation. Know that this period will pass. You haven't realized it yet, but you're tenacious. You may feel like giving up sometimes, but you won't. You'll always find a way to push through, and you'll come out on the other side even stronger and with more perspective.

Don't worry. Life will happen. You'll accomplish great things. You'll see the world. You'll fall in love. You'll encounter people and places that'll encourage you to grow into a well-rounded person. This will all happen at its own pace, when it's meant to.

Enjoy all that life has to offer. Remind yourself to take it all in and not allow stress or worry to block out the beauty right in front of you. There are always things and people to be grateful for, and always things to look forward to.

With love and encouragement,

Ashley


A version of this story appeared in the November 2018 issue of Dance Spirit with the title "Letter to My Teenage Self: Ashley Ellis."

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A Letter from the Editor in Chief

Hi, dance friends. It is a strange time to be a person in the world, and an especially strange time to be a dancer. As the dance community faces the coronavirus crisis, a lot of you are coping with closed studios, canceled performances and competitions, and a general sense of anxiety about how your world will look going forward.

Yes, dancers are super resilient, and there's been a lot of inspiring community-building happening. #LivingRoomDances and Instagram dance parties and virtual ballet classes with the pros are wonderful. Dance can, and should, be a bright spot in the darkness. But that weird, empty feeling you have? It might be grief. The loss of the certainty of daily class, the loss of the promise of that big end-of-year performance—that's real. The dance studio has always been a safe place; it's especially hard not to have that outlet now, when you need it most.

We're here for you. We—and our friends at Dance Magazine, Pointe, Dance Teacher, The Dance Edit, and Dance Business Weekly—are doing our best to document the hurdles facing the dance industry, and to advocate for dancers in need. We're developing more online content that will help you maintain and improve your technique while you're at home, and process the mental and emotional fallout of all this upheaval. (You can keep up with the latest stories here.) And we're still making our print magazine. We have issues planned and shot, full of great dance stories and beautiful photos. We're not going anywhere.

We want to hear from you. Talk to us. Or dance to us. Or both. We won't stop moving, and you shouldn't, either.

Margaret

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