Ashley Bouder at Work

Published in the August/September 2012 issue.

Photos by Kyle Froman

 

With her Bette Davis eyes and breathtaking jump, Ashley Bouder delivers a jolt of electricity every time she comes onstage. Her fiery classicism has positioned her for many of the great Balanchine roles, like Firebird, “Rubies” from Jewels and Theme and Variations. Pointe followed Bouder for a day just before the opening of the New York City Ballet spring season last April. She was rehearsing her debut in Liebeslieder Walzer with partner Tyler Angle. “Ashley has endless amounts of energy,” says Angle, who has known Bouder since he was 12. “She loves putting the work in. And she never meets you with less than 100 percent onstage.”

Bouder gets up around 8 am. “I have two dogs. I have to make sure they eat and I eat and they go out before I leave for class,” she says. She and husband, Matthew Dibble, now on the road with Come Fly Away, have a beagle, Scout, and a Boston terrier, Enid. After their walk, Bouder makes herself scrambled eggs with cheese and ham before heading out.

This work day began with Andrei Kramarevsky’s men’s class at the School of American Ballet. Afterwards she had a break, then rehearsal. Balanchine made the Liebeslieder role she was rehearsing on Violette Verdy, and Bouder has watched many old tapes. “Violette’s very romantic but also very internal,” she says. “A lot of it comes from the way she holds her head—back and with her eyes a little bit closed.” For Bouder, Liebeslieder offers an opportunity to show another side of her dancing. “I don’t want audiences to have a stereotype of me,” she says. “In the Balanchine repertoire, my roles tend to be all very difficult, very technical, with big personalities. Liebeslieder is completely the opposite. The challenge for me is to make it interesting. And to show people I can do this well.”

Walking Scout (left) and Enid

“That first week of the season, you almost want to kill yourself. You can end up with five shows in a row. I’ll be absolutely dead. Then you have to wake up again on Tuesday morning and come to work.”

In SAB’s men’s class: “My rep is primarily jumping, and we don’t usually get a lot of jumps in company class. I also like being with the school kids—watching them come up is inspiring.”

Taking a break with Janie Taylor: “If I have an hour or two between rehearsals, I don’t have to warm up that much if I put on leg warmers and keep moving. If it’s longer, I have to do a whole barre before I start.”

With Angle in Liebeslieder rehearsal: “Waltzing can be very confusing. I don’t listen to the music, because then I forget what I am doing. I go grab Tyler, and say, ‘I can’t remember the steps. Tell me the steps!’ I keep going over and over them. ”

The prep goes on with a costume fitting. “This morning I got a tweet from a girl who said she wanted to be just like Ashley Bouder. At least I think it was a girl. With social media you never know.”

Between rehearsals, Bouder squeezes in a physical therapy session.