Ashley Bouder was born in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, and began her ballet training at the age of six at the Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet with Marcia Dale Weary. After attending the 1999 Summer Program at the School of American Ballet (SAB), the official school of New York City Ballet, she was invited by SAB to continue her training during the Winter Session. As a student, Ms. Bouder performed featured roles in Balanchine's Dances Concertantes and Stars and Stripes for the School of American Ballet's 2000 Annual Spring Workshop. Ms. Bouder was named an apprentice with New York City Ballet in June 2000 and became a member of the corps de ballet that October. She was promoted to the rank of soloist in February 2004, and in January 2005, Ms. Bouder was promoted to principal dancer.
Bouder is fighting for gender equality in ballet. Photo by Miguel Anaya
I am a ballerina. I am a feminist. This might seem to be an oxymoron. Ballerinas do what they are told by choreographers and directors—positions that we have become painfully aware of as traditionally male roles. Feminism is the theory of the political, economic and social equality of the sexes. By that description, the two terms seem contradictory.
Alexei Ratmansky—now famously—expressed on Facebook last fall: "sorry, there is no such thing as equality in ballet: women dance on point, men lift and support women. women receive flowers, men escort women offstage. not the other way around (I know there are couple of exceptions). and I am very comfortable with that."