The Washington Ballet’s Ashley Murphy
isn’t afraid to step outside her comfort zone.
By Natalia Boesch
Online Bonus! For more
with Ashley Murphy,
go to pointemagazine.com.
Why did you make the move
from Dance Theatre of
Harlem to The Washington
I had been at DTH for 13 years,
and I wanted to see what else
was out there. I felt like it was
time for me to experience other
choreography and a bigger
Has the change helped you
grow as a dancer?
Definitely. At DTH, they knew
me and trusted me with a lot of
principal roles. Here, I had to work
my way back up. I’m more of a
performer onstage than in the
studio, so it
was hard for me to
show them what I could
do. But the people around
me were so encouraging, which
helped my confidence. As my first
year went on, things got better.
Do you prefer dancing exist-
ing ballets or having new
work created on you?
Both. Dancing ballets that have
already been created, especially
the classics, teaches you discipline
and the structure of what ballet is.
And it’s rewarding to dance roles
that were performed by people
you look up to. Having things created on you is amazing, as well,
because you feel like you’ve added
something to ballet’s history.
You’ve said there’s a need
for more black teachers,
directors and ballet masters.
Do you see yourself in any of
these roles someday?
I love teaching, but being a ballet
master is not for me. I want to go
to physical therapy school and
work with dancers that way.
Are you going to start PT
school while you’re dancing?
I haven’t decided yet. I’m working on my bachelor’s degree
first through the Saint Mary’s
College of California LEAP
program, and taking it one step
at a time.
What do you consider the
most important aspect of
Connecting with the audience.
No matter what you’re perform-
ing, whether it’s Balanchine or
Sleeping Beauty or a contemporary piece—even if you only
touch one person. Otherwise
we’re not doing our jobs to the
Do you have any advice for
Don’t mistake challenge for
defeat. Every day is not going to
be easy, but once you’re onstage
you don’t think about those
things. There’s just the joy that
comes with sharing your art.
What do you like to do on
your days off?
I love doing my nails. I do nail art.
People make fun of me—they’re
like, “You do your nails every
day!” And I’m like, “Yup, pretty
challenge for defeat.”