Ashley Murphy in Giselle at The Washington Ballet. Photo by Theo Kossenas

Spotlight: Someone Once Told Ashley Murphy to Stay Where She's Comfortable. She Did the Opposite.

Ashley Murphy was the leading lady of Dance Theatre of Harlem for many of her 13 years there. But in 2016, she took a leap of faith, leaving her coveted place as reigning ballerina for a spot in The Washington Ballet.

"I wasn't really growing anymore—they didn't need to pay attention to me because they knew I would work on things on my own. I felt like I'd become everybody's mom," she told writer Gia Kourlas. "I need to be in a setting where I'm more equal with other people."

Two years later, she's found a home in D.C.—and has no regrets about her decision. We caught up with her for our "Spotlight" series:


What do you think is the most common misconception about dancers?

That we don't eat! Dancers definitely eat healthier than the average person, but we also have our "cheat" days where we eat pizza and ice cream! I am also from Louisiana and in the South we love our food.

What other career would you like to try?

My goal is to become a physical therapist so that I can help other dancers feel and dance their very best.

What was the last dance performance you saw?

Nederlands Dans Theater and they were absolutely amazing!

What's the most-played song on your phone?

"Broken But I'm Healed" by Byron Cage. This gospel song is so inspirational to me.

Do you have a pre-performance ritual?

I take a power nap, drink a Red Bull and take three Advil.

What's your favorite book?

Where the Red Fern Grows. It's been my fave since I was a kid!

Where can you be found two hours after a performance ends?

Usually in my bed!

Where did you last vacation?

Cancun, Mexico

What app do you spend the most time on?

Pinterest. I love finding new ideas!

Who is the person you most want to dance with—living or dead?

Gelsey Kirkland. Nothing more to be said, right?

What's the first item on your bucket list?

Sky diving, if I ever get the courage.

What's your go-to crosstraining routine?

TRX Bootcamp, WERQ and PlyoFit! They all are a good kick in the rear.

What's the worst advice you've ever received?

Stay where you are comfortable.

If you could relive one performance, what would it be?

I performed at the White House for President Obama. It was such an honor!

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CalArts dance students. Photo by Josh S. Rose, Courtesy CalArts

4 Reasons Interdisciplinary Education Can Make You a Stronger Dancer, According to CalArts

After years spent training in their childhood studio, it can be hard for dancers to realize exactly how many pathways there are toward career success. The School of Dance at CalArts aims to show its students all of them.

Built with the intention to break barriers and bend the rules, CalArts' interdisciplinary curriculum ensures that students take classes that cover an entire spectrum of artistic approaches. The result? A dance program that gives you much more than just dance.

Last week, Dance Magazine caught up with Kevin Whitmire, assistant director of admission for CalArts School of Dance, and recent alum Kevin Zambrano for the inside scoop on how an interdisciplinary curriculum can make you a stronger artist. Watch the full event below, and read on for the highlights.

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July 2021