Bourrée Girl

Human interest

Posted in American Ballet Theatre, Opera ballet by bourreegirl on August 28, 2010

Ashley Tuttle in “Diversion of Angels” at City Center, 2003 (courtesy danzahoy.com)

Bourrée Girl hasn’t seen a lot of ballet since the end of ABT’s Met season; she’s been busy and kind of broke, and recently the internet has stopped coming to visit her at home. She’s so happy, though, to be able to share with you this interview with Ashley Tuttle in Time Out New York. She’s been looking all year for an excuse to tell you what a revelation Ashley was in the Met’s new production of Carmen, where she appeared in two brief pas de deux choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon. Maria Kowroski, of the New York City Ballet and the endless legs, did the first performances of what seemed to be showy but empty little pieces, clichéd and embarrassing. Not that Maria seemed in the least embarrassed, but the Met needn’t have hired the usually worthwhile Wheeldon if this music-hall stuff was all they were going to get. When I saw Ashley later, I was blown away.

I saw a performance of Complexions Contemporary Ballet once at the Joyce, executed with great vigor by apparently soulless athletes until an unnamed redhead slid on at the end of the Marvin Gaye ballet and grabbed everyone’s attention with the trick of appearing to be a human being having an experience and interacting with somebody. I supposed she might be an apprentice, since she hadn’t appeared in anything that evening except this large ensemble ballet. But she’s all I remember from that performance now. By imbuing the generalized Carmen steps with immediacy and poignancy, Ashley created the same irresistible magnetism: a performance that sculpted dimensions out of thin air, making each step powerful because it was personal. A human being having emotions you can perceive! The reason you go to the theater! It was crazy exciting!

Quite possibly ABT, when they let her go, felt you could have too much of that kind of thing on your roster, or maybe Ashley developed this priceless ability after she was forced to seek alternative employment. That would be interesting, for those pondering whether this expressive power is a gift, a skill, or a combination of these. Discuss? Alternatively, those with any curiosity about the paths open to ballerinas who’ve lost their jobs will find much of interest in the interview. For me, it was gratifying to read that Ashley and I struggle with the same aspects of yoga. A turned-out lunge provides so much more stability than a parallel one, and I think of her now whenever I wobble.

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