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?
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!
If "Fosse/Verdon" whet your appetite for the impeccable Gwen Verdon, then Merely Marvelous: The Dancing Genius of Gwen Verdon is the three-course meal you've been craving. The new documentary—available now on Amazon for rental or purchase—dives into the life of the Tony-winning performer and silver-screen star lauded for her charismatic dancing.
Though she's perhaps most well-known today as Bob Fosse's wife and muse, that's not even half of her story. For starters, she'd already won four Tonys before they wed, making her far more famous in the public eye than he was at that point in his career. That's just one of many surprising details we learned during last night's U.S. premiere of Merely Marvelous. Believe us: You're gonna love her even more once you get to know her. Here are eight lesser-known tidbits to get you started.
Every dancer knows that how you fuel your body affects how you feel in the studio. Of course, while breakfast is no more magical than any other meal (despite the enduring myth that it's the most important one of the day), showing up to class hangry is a recipe for unproductive studio time.
So what do your favorite dancers eat in the morning to set themselves up for a busy rehearsal or performance day?
When it comes to dance in the U.S., companies in the South often find themselves overlooked—sometimes even by the presenters in their own backyard. That's where South Arts comes in. This year, the regional nonprofit launched Momentum, an initiative that will provide professional development, mentorship, touring grants and residencies to five Southern dance companies.
You ever just wish that Kenneth MacMillan's iconic production of Romeo and Juliet could have a beautiful love child with the 1968 film starring Olivia Hussey? (No, not Baz Luhrmann's version. We are purists here.)
Wish granted: Today, the trailer for a new film called Romeo and Juliet: Beyond Words was released, featuring MacMillan's choreography and with what looks like all the cinematic glamour we could ever dream of: