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November 17, 2022


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It’s the entitled generation. And I’m sorry but she looked terrible this fall season onstage. For which she only has herself to blame.

The lack of self-awareness truly mind-boggling. She was fresh off an injury, and knew that she was dancing with a diminished level of technique. How is she so blindsided over being replaced in a role and so devastated over it? Surely, she must have witnessed this happen to someone else in the company. Did she just assume it would never happen to THE Ashley Bouder? Is she just expecting to coast into the final years of her career and be celebrated for it?

"What a dump!"

American dancers are ALWAYS whining that they don't get the respect great athletes do. Personally I think they'd be better off comparing themselves to other great classical artists but let's do some comparisons, shall we?

Jockeys cannot be over 126 pounds fully dressed. Boxers must make the weight for their class or they can't fight.

The NFL. Each team weight thresholds for each position and players are weighed regularly. Even the big boys can't get too fat. For the mobile positions it's brutal. If a WR gains weight and can't run the patterns he gets cut. Period.

Football practice is rigidly timed. Drill drill drill outside in hot weather. You are consistently late by a second or two? You will get cut & it doesn't matter what you did last year.

Oops! We're not athletes, we are artists... fine. Work with the management to engineer a graceful exit. This has happened numerous times. Bouder could have done it. She admits that the other dancers looked at her askance when she came back with her post-injury weight gain. This is the management's fault?

Lastly, in whose world is it acceptable to make charges against a nameless person who can't defend themselves?

Not to mention it was a BOARD MEMBER. If it had been another dancer we'd dismiss it as back stage gossip but the board is the lifeline of a non-profit institution, and Bouder is slandering one of its members.

Totally out of line. But it's a new world. She may get away with it.

All true, Diana.

Bouder has tried to arrogate to herself some worldly importance that doesn't match reality. She's tried to make her personal problem significant to the rest of us and has even tried to justify her whimpering by dragging her daughter's future into it. It's just nauseating. She's not trying to accomplish anything more than get back on stage and feel the applause -- regardless of whether she should be there.

My only comment is that I remember in 2020, when all the NFL players were still in isolation, many teams required players to weigh themselves daily and report it to their coaches.

If you’re going to use the term “athlete” to describe yourself, then look at what standards your “peers” in the NFL, NBA, MBA are held to. Otherwise don’t ascribe that term to yourself.

Regardless, I felt bad watching Boulder’s livestream. I hope she gets help in the form of therapy. It’s clear she feels very isolated from the rest of the company. That could be her own fault, but she needs help working through that in private, not public.

True, Zachary.

The reason that pro athletic teams have such rigorous supervision of the athletes is that there is so much money at stake if the athletes don't perform up to expectations. Not so at a ballet company.

Instead of hiring an "intimacy director", maybe NYCB should bring in an NFL consultant to assess the team environment and weed out the Antonio Browns.

I guess, I don't know. It's one thing to not put in the physical work when your work is so physical and to complain when you get told off for it. I understand that she doesn't really seem to have thought this through. Your job is a two way street.

But I disagree when you say that other dancers got better (this is true) and got more attention that Ashley wanted for herself (this part I disagree with). I don't know what kind of attention you mean, and why it has to be compared to what other dancers have achieved. If you meant attention that is bestowed upon dancer for *their dancing* then I agree (because she has regressed) but I don't think this is what you mean (and I say this with a lot of respect for your blog because I have read it over the years).

Sara, Ashley spent the major part of her career at the forefront of attention for all of her dancing and outside accomplishments, but then she was less in the limelight as her colleagues excelled peripherally and on stage. She has always tried to compete on every level and has not necessarily been a good sport about not being perceived as coming out on top.

The sour grapes couldn't have been more apparent recently when a brand new Firebird was cast and Ashley then posted a picture of herself in Firebird headgear with a nasty expression on her face which conveyed precisely what she wanted to convey. Not a word of encouragement to the new Firebird, who knocked it out of the park and pretty much claimed the role as her own.

I think Ashley is probably too toxic to return to the NYCB workplace. Withdrawing from public (and all social media) for a while to sort out her issues might be something to consider. However, history suggests that she's probably giving a tell-all interview to Gia Kourlas who will drag NYCB through the mud as much as she can.

Ms Bouder seems to be as ‘H’ says above, a fighter, and fierce competitor. You can tell that by the way she dances, her bravura, her ‘attack’, along with her on-line comments. That’s why she’s a star. I have no idea, but you could imagine her as a kid thinking to herself "Im gonna get that double NO MATTER WHAT!!!" Then working hours after class until she got it. She was also prob a pain in the a** in class then too.

As ‘H’ also states she has reached a very difficult point in her career when she can no longer just see it’s end in the future, but can see that it is right in front of her.

And to make matters more uncomfortable she was hit with a series of events, none of which were under her control, i.e. covid & injuries, shortening her career even further. None of the solutions she’s used in the past, rest, going to therapy, or working though the pain, etc. are working. Her body is giving out and there seems to be nothing she can do to stop it. She seems to be furious.

She is furious. Her resources are failing her, so she is lashing out. Any fight against, age and injuries, you will eventually loose.

Its sad to hear her say that she has no support from the other dancers. Again I dont know her, but a highly competitive attitude will make you a star, but will never endear you to your colleagues.

However one thing you CAN be sure of is that it is EXTREMELY UNLIKELY Ms Bouder was recently ‘body shamed.’ or ‘fat shamed’ as she alleges, by anyone at NYCB. Years after the ‘Martins scandal’, ‘male dancer scandal’ and its negative press, along with recent cultural awareness toward women, POC, diversity, etc THERE IS NO DOUBT that the NYCB organization has, from top to bottom been ‘sensitivity trained’ to death! Anyone, and especially if it were a member of the board knew exactly what to say, and how to say it before they spoke to her.

If ‘You are too heavy to dance this role”, is what Ms Bouder were told, that is not fat/body shaming. That is a legitimate evaluation of how you are performing a job.
However, it seems she heard something else.

There is part of me that empathizes with Bouder as she is clearly in emotional pain and dealing with body image issues. As someone who has dealt with anorexia nervosa for most of my life, I get it. However, when one enters into certain careers like ballet, they must accept that fact that their body is vital to their job. Perhaps, the "weight" conversations need more tact, but they are part of the career.

Bouder mentioned that she was told that she needed to lose 5-10 lbs. upon entering the company and seemed to be complaining about it. But Susan Jaffe had the same exact experience and instead of complaining, she snapped to it. If you can't handle maintaining a certain weight or proportion, ballet is not the career for you. Bouder also mentioned that she lacked the motivation the younger dancers had after lockdown. That's just too bad. As an adult in a ballet company, it the responsibility of each dancer to maintain their instruments and if one fails to do so, they shouldn't perform until they are in proper shape.

One last thought - I don't love that Bouder herself shames "anorexics". She seems to be sensitive to modern terminology, so hopefully she can learn that people are not "anorexic" but "have anorexia".

...dancing with anything like 10 lbs extra weight especially the type of works that City Ballet is known for is not just an aesthetic issue...it becomes more importantly a health/injury risk issue for both the dancer and potentially their partners.This should all have been handled in the early casting and rehearsal process.
The artform and all who devote their lives to it deserve better.

1) Immaturity.
2) Expectations and demands untempered by experience.
3) Life is unfair.

Bouder’s self-indulgent whining under the guise of helping others is disingenuous to say the least. It’s all about her. Believe me, I know the humiliation a dancer faces firsthand, but she’s been very fortunate in her career. If you can't offer a line or movement that is required for a good performance then don't do it or do it in the studio and not on stage. If you can't keep your body from going over the pudgy-line then keep on the sweats and just take class. Not everyone gets that part. Similarly, if you can't hit all fouettes in the second act of Swan Lake then don't expect or demand being a Principal dancer in a company that has Swan Lake in their repertoire. (Check out Terry Gross’ interview with Misty Copeland).

In one of those instagram posts Ashley said this is not about body shaming but about something like determining how perceptions of beauty are determined. Fine. I think that is a fine conversation to have generally -- how we view race, size, ethnicity, etc. But not just in the context of ballet. I think she was saying people are seeing things wrong, like not appreciating some things, so to me that means the conversation needs to be for the general public, not ballet artistic directors or board members, except to the extent they are members of the general public. Isn't it the public that pretty much decides what it wants to see?

To me Ashley has always seemed a member of that group of six or so amazing young dancers who came to prominence like 2004 - 2010, the others being Fairchild, Hyltin, Mearns, Peck, Reichlen. With the exception of Reichlen, they all shot from corps member to principal dancer in 3-5 years. Compare that with today. I believe it took Unity Phelan about 7 years to go from corps to soloist to principal, and it took Indiana Woodward about 9 years to get to principal. Among the young soloists with what I think are the best chances to be promoted on to principal it took most of them 6 to 10 years just to be promoted to soloist, with Nadon (3.5 years) and E von Enck (4.5 years) the exceptions. That is just to soloist! A couple years ago I was reading an interview with someone who had just been promoted to soloist -- can't remember person or company -- and she said the great thing about it was you got more attention -- as in coaching and mentoring -- once you were promoted. How many more young dancers are there in the corps waiting for their chance to get the help they need to soar?

Of the 6 or so principals in Ashley's group I liked her the least. And it had nothing to do with her body and everything to do with her face. She always seemed to have some crazy mugging, smirking expression on her face that had the unfortunate side effect of highlighting her pointed chin, ultimately giving her a very sharp, aggressive look, not necessarily appropriate for every single role she danced, at
least not in my opinion. I kept asking myself "why doesn't somebody in authority at NYCB tell her to wipe that stupid expression off her face?" So she was usually the last person I would choose to see if one of the other five was dancing the same role. But I respect her for her technical skills and daring. (And I bought 2 copies of her kids' ballet book for young members of my family, despite the fact there was a grammatical error in it, which I chose to blame on a likely substandard editor).

Ashley was one of the people Megan Fairchild interviewed in her pandemic YouTube series. I think she interviewed Ashley in the spring or summer of 2020. Two things struck me about that interview. First, she seemed to have a really strange, sort of depressed, affect. I was surprised as I assumed she and Megan were friends. Second, she talked at length about her difficult childhood and the role Marcia Dale Weary of the Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet played in mentoring her and bringing her along. I really felt a lot of something (sympathy, empathy?) for her that I hadn't felt before. I thought her spiel on Instagram the other day might generate more of same, but it didn't. I was embarrassed. I cringed. I felt like I was listening to someone's therapy session.

I was scrolling through her Instagram account and couldn't help noting all the traveling she's done. Nantucket, the Hamptons, Tahoe, France, Italy. I wonder if it has ever occurred to her that if she hadn't happened to have been born in central Pennsylvania -- instead somewhere like maybe Youngstown, Ohio or Utica, NY -- she might never have come into contact with Marcia Dale Weary and never found the path to the so-far wonderful life she seems to have had.

Ashley Bouder gaining 10 lbs does not lessen her value as a person. You know what does? Disparaging her employer, dragging NYCB's name through the mud, and jeopardizing the future careers her fellow dancers, all because she can't stand to be on the sidelines.

Ashley has had her 20 years in the spotlight. She has had a good a career as any ballerina could hope to have. And now that she's on her way out, she seems hell bent on tearing down the very institution that let her shine. What about Mira Nadon's 20 years in the spotlight? What about Roman Mejia's 20 years in the spotlight? What about the incoming Corps dancers, excited for their first Nutcracker as full Company members? They deserve the same opportunities Ashley has been given and taken full advantage of. Her teary IG posts, cleverly disguised as trying to make the better world for her daughter, are embarrassing, ridiculous, and selfish. She's done a really good job giving NYCB bad press in the middle of their lucrative Nutcracker season, jeopardizing their ticket-selling efforts AND the professional and artistic ambitions of all her fellow dancers. Why? Because she gained weight and was pulled from Bizet. It's selfish and disgusting.

As if this isn't bad enough, she has the nerve to post footage of her rehearsing Sugar Plum, encouraging people to come watch her dance on December 8! She still thinks she's entitled to dance, not one day after going viral tearfully disparaging the NYCB, its dancers, and its Board.

My opinion? Pull her from Nutcracker. She doesn't deserve to be on stage. You don't get to accuse your employer of ageism and body shaming and then go on to perform Sugar Plum. She doesn't deserve applause. She deserves a pink slip, and I hope she gets it soon.

I saw the rehearsal video you mentioned. There is nothing appealing about any part of her dancing in that video. Wearing the baggy pants instead of a practice tutu isn't going to help her new partner get used to dancing with her in costume. Honestly, I am stunned that NYCB has allowed her to get away with this episode, and I agree that they should at least offer her a "soft exit" and do it now.

What is particularly shameful is how Ashley has tried to create her media story at a time when the media should be about Sterling Hyltin's retirement and the class and grace that have marked her entire career.

Ugh, I hadn't even thought of that. You are right about Sterling, and how the spotlight should be on her as she takes her final bow next month (I have a ticket!)

There was an article about Sterling in the fall program that I read several times because it was so beautifully written. One of the things Sterling talked about was letting go so a new generation could have their chance to shine. I thought this was such a classy thing to say. Sterling has had a wonderful career with NYCB, and I have loved watching her dance every single time she was cast. But she respects the bigger picture. The ballets need to be recast. New dancers are on their way up. The audience needs to be respected. Sterling understands that, and worded her goodbye in a way that was full of honor and respect for NYCB, its ballets, its dancers, and the audience.

Compare that to Ashley Bouder. She's also at the end of her career, and, faced with the reality that she will no longer be in the spotlight, has taken to Instagram to disparage the entire NYCB family. Whatever sympathy I had for her feeling bad about her appearance has virtually disappeared.

I’ve been a dedicated reader or your column (and balletomane) for many years. This is my first comment. I did see her dance onstage in September and was appalled. Her size was not the as much the issue although it was apparent that she had gotten larger. It was the lack of the technical and zero artistry. Over the years I enjoyed her boldness and speed, especially in the Ratmansky ballets. She seemed to be having a lot of fun onstage and I always appreciated that, but I guess it covered how little artistry she ever possessed. Compared to her peers as they evolved artistically through their careers…Wendy Whelan comes to mind, as she danced beautifully and gave up the more difficult technical roles on her way to retirement. It seems as if Ashely never really developed as a ballet artist and relied on her technical capabilities and boundless energy (and lack of big injuries).

I also wonder, how do you compare what happened to Ashely versus Kathryn Morgan’s forced exit from illness/thyroid issues/weight gain? Kathryn’s managed to dance beautifully and forge a lucrative career in ballet despite being “large”, but she also knew she could not dance at one of the world’s best ballet companies.

It's a common pathology among complainants to try to expand a personal complaint to a much larger class of people in order to legitimize it. Bouder has always practiced that. Whatever her gripe is, she tries to claim that it involves a wider group of people in order to make her complaint look like it is much more important than just pertaining to her.

Here she has pleaded her case to the nonprofessional public that hasn't a clue about professional standards. She has received little support from the professional community which knows Ashley very well and knows her M.O. It just amazes me that NYCB puts up with her. Joe Volpe didn't put up with Kathleen Battle or Pavarotti; Baryshnikov didn't put up with Kirkland and Bissell. As Bouder's career comes closer to its end, she will undoubtedly get louder in an effort to keep the applause coming. Then she'll look back on it and be embarrassed and decide that she needs to write a book about it or latch onto some therapy circus as a paid partner to help prevent the rest of the dance world from making her mistakes.

Ballet is a short and very tough career. It's sad to see Bouder in denial that her strength is no longer equal to the work. I guess it is easier to blame the company and everything else than face old age (relative in relation to ballet).

The company has featured her on its social media this year, so there can be no claims that they have been ignoring her.

As far as dancing style, Bouder was good at flash and speed. But the lack of gentleness in her style is starting to show now since the speed is wilting.

She should find a reasonable time to exit before she completely murders the good will the audience still has for her.

If you look at the original post, five days ago someone commented that they "hope other NYCB dancers stand up with" her "against those that told you not to dance this past fall."

Ms. Bouder replied, saying "if you look to see how many of my colleagues have reposted my stories and post, you'll have your answer. The number is 0." It seems she is not on good terms with any of the dancers(?)

I have no sympathy for Bouder. She has slandered nameless people who are on the NYCB team: the board member and Sterling Hyltin for example. Maybe others I don't know of. That is unacceptable behavior in my book and for that alone she deserves a swift dismissal.

Moreover, she's been spewing hate for some time now. Too much to go into here, but last Thanksgiving, she appeared in the Macy's parade as NYCB's Sugar Plum Fairy (in the long pink tulle skirt costume).

She was appearing as a representative of Balanchine and NYCB, which she touted on her IG account:

"Happy thanksgiving to all! In honor of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade and the opening of @nycballet ‘s George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker tomorrow, here’s my contribution from last years parade, in which I had the honor of being the Sugar Plum Fairy."

She added:

"As we celebrate this day of giving thanks and assessing our gratitudes, let us also look back and the acknowledge the atrocities that led us here."

Bouder can't give it a rest, not for one day. On Thanksgiving, I make a strict rule not to discuss politics or religion with my friends and family - even though frankly most of us are on the same wavelength. We're all in agreement: let's just eat, drink, and be merry (and grateful) for one day.

But not Bouder. She had to sour and sully the one civic, secular day that all Americans share.

Toxic. She's received zero support from her colleagues. I am 99% sure that although most of them generally agree with her on politics they can't take her abrasive, obsessive personality.

Happy Thanksgiving, all.

I would have felt more empathy for Ashley if she didn't realize what her job is...If you could just be OK at dance, we'd all do it..And I object that it was all over 1o pounds. Looking at the teaching video, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=avdZ7AZ7koE she is definitely not in stage shape...

Happy thanksgiving, thankful for this space for dance, for all of you serious passionated lovers of dance and last but not least Haglund.

Happy Thanksgiving 2022! Alas, I remember how lovely Ashley Boulder looked dancing the Sugar Plum solo on the Nutcracker float in the Macy’s parade just two years ago.
A fan’s film - https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=lJK1vlIr7MQ

Thanks, Haglund, for this open forum on ballet. Onwards and upwards!

Yes, Zachary, it seems she is not on good terms with any of her fellow dancers, and can you blame them?

First she gains 10 lbs - nobody's fault but her own. Then she throws up a fuss and records a teary IG post about how she had to sit in the audience for the fall gala (travesty!) and accusing her fellow dancers of giving her mean looks in class. As if that's not enough, she then makes a public comment about how 0 of them have supported her whiny complaints by sharing or commenting on her pity party. All of this while they are trying to keep NYCB in the black by dancing in countless Nutcrackers.

I find this ironic knowing Ashley is a ardent Democrat, but at this time, she reminds me of Trump. "I am the only one who matters, and I don't care who I have to throw under the bus as long as I am still getting applause, despite not being deserving of applause as I am totally out of shape and can no longer dance well."

Leontyne Price said, "“You should always know when you're shifting gears in life. You should leave your era; it should never leave you.”

Oh wow that STEPS video. I am shocked by her appearance. I had not seen her since before COVID. She definitely gained more than 10 lbs.

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