Merrill Ashley

Merrill Ashley

Merrill Ashley was born in St. Paul, Minnesota and raised in Rutland, Vermont where she started dancing at age seven. By age thirteen, she was awarded the opportunity to attend the Ford Foundation Scholarship Program where he continued to train with the School of American Ballet. At age sixteen, George Balanchine invited her to join the corps de ballet of the New York City Ballet, and over the course of a decade, Ashley made her way from corps to soloist to principal dancer. Balanchine choreographed many ballets just for Ashley including Ballo dela Regina and Ballade. She also stared leading roles in her repertory of ballets such as Sugarplum Fairy and Dewdrop in The Nutcracker and Carabosse in The Sleeping Beauty. She danced all over the world, represented the United States in the 40th Anniversary of UNESCO, and was a guest artist with many ballet companies. Ashley is one of the few of Balanchines’ dancers to carry on his legacy teaching today.

Lian Dellasala


One thought on “Merrill Ashley

  1. I think it is great that Merrill Ashley became an associate at the NYCB after her dancing career. This shows her dedication and passion for the New York City Ballet and to me that says that this must be a great program. Since starting her career as an associate, Ashley has conducted lectures for the George Balanchine Foundation at the Boston Ballet and the Massachusetts Youth Ballet. In 2000, she staged the Ballo della Regina that Lian mentioned at the National Ballet in Cuba, the San Francisco Ballet, and the Royal Winnipeg ballet. She is also a frequent guest teacher at the Paris Opera Ballet and the Royal Danish Ballet. Ashley’s decision to further her career in dance by becoming a dance teacher and lecturer is inspiring to me. I think that being able to do something you are passionate about as a career is an important aspect of life and I hope to find my path just as Merrill Ashley did.

    Natalie D’Addieco

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