PNB Apprentice Ashton Edwards Among 2021 Princess Grace Award Winners

August 16, 2021

Every year, the Princess Grace Foundation–USA recognizes emerging artists in dance, theater and film—a huge honor and often a predictor of future career success. This month, the Foundation announced its 2021 Princess Grace Award winners, including one dancer from a ballet company: 18-year-old Ashton Edwards, who joins Pacific Northwest Ballet this season as an apprentice.

Edwards, who is nonbinary and uses the pronouns “he” and “they,” recently graduated from PNB School’s Professional Division. Edwards began training on pointe independently at home in the spring of 2020 and eventually asked the school for permission to adjust the dancer’s training regime. Since last fall Edwards has split their time between traditional men’s classes and pointe classes at PNB—and the results have been astonishing.

The dancer’s apprenticeship with the main company starts in November. In Dance Spirit’s recent cover story, Edwards said that as a professional they hope to dance in gender-blind contemporary work as well as in classical roles traditionally danced by women. “I want to be part of changing, evolving those traditions to modern day life,” Edwards told DS. “We can preserve those ballets, those classic works, but also make them reflect our modern world.”

Princess Grace Award recipients, who must be nominated by leaders of a nonprofit dance company or a professional training program or university, receive a $10,000 unrestricted cash grant. Edwards is in excellent company—fellow award winners in dance and choreography include Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s Khalia Campbell, former Whim W’him dancer Ashley Kaylynn Green (who is joining Ailey this season), choreographer Johnnie Mercer, Tushrik Fredericks of TRIBE and choreographer Martha Nichols.

The Foundation also named four honoraria in dance and choreography, awarded $1,000 each: School of American Ballet student Kennedy Targosz, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago’s Alysia L. Johnson, choreographer Alice Gosti and choreographer Crystal Michelle Perkins. Congratulations to all!