Behind the Scenes with Ashley Knox

An interview with Ashley Knox, International Dancer and Soloist of Miami City Ballet

Published Wednesday, June 17, 2020 9:00 am

Tell us about yourself and how your dance career began.

I’ve been dancing since I can remember. We didn’t have YouTube or any social media as a kid, so I would watch the same Nutcracker video of Mikhail Baryshnikov and Gelsey Kirkland over and over again. Despite my shyness, I always loved performing! I enjoyed the physical challenge of class and rehearsals, but it was the performing that kept my interest. When I was fourteen, I attended the summer intensive at The School of American Ballet in New York City. Being able to see performances and dancers from all over the country made me realize the possibilities of the dance world, and was when dancing professionally became a serious goal of mine.   

Did you attend summer intensives growing up? If so, what were some of the valuable skills you learned?

Attending summer programs offered different ways to explore dance. It challenged my mind to pick up different combinations than I was used to, hear corrections in a new way, and try different styles of technique. It allowed me to find what I liked and what was more natural. So for me, summer programs were the beginning of finding my own direction in dance as a career. 

Were you heavily influenced by a certain instructor or intensive that pushed you to pursue a career in dance?

I have to say that all of my instructors have influenced me in major ways. If they were hard on me, it made me push. If they were nurturing, it built my confidence. I feel a variety of teachers is the best way to get a sense off what it is like to dance professionally. There are many opinions out there, you have to find a way to work for yourself and take what you can from any situation. 

What is it like being a Soloist of Miami City Ballet? Can you tell us about your experiences as a professional dancer?

Being a Soloist with Miami City Ballet is a lot of hard work and a lot of fun! The best part about being a professional dancer is being a part of a company and community. We become like family or a team, and that makes being on stage or touring that much more memorable. 

What was your favorite show to perform in and why?

My favorite show, that’s a hard question answer. I’m lucky to say I have many performances that stand out as being memorable. I’d have to say the opportunity to perform Balanchine’s Serenade at Balanchine’s home theatre at the Lincoln Center was out of this world. It was beyond anything I could have ever dreamed of happening. It was such an honor to dance on that stage and then to top it off, to dance a masterpiece like Serenade. I will never forget it. 

What can ballet students learn from your intensive this summer? What type of skills will you be focusing on?

In my classes we will focus on the details of Balanchine Style and technique. Building not just strength, but also artistry and musicality.  

What would you say makes Toledo Ballet’s summer intensives stand out?

Toledo Ballet’s Summer intensives offer a professional environment with a well-rounded variety of teachers and classes to explore the options of being a performer! 

What’s your personal favorite part of summer intensives?

As a student, my favorite part of summer programs were trying new things, pushing myself to no limit, and making friends. 

If you could give a piece of advice for aspiring ballet students, what would it be?

My best advice is to not compare yourself to others. Everyone works in different ways, at different speeds, and has their own strengths. And so do you! If you walk in the studio focusing on what you’d like to work on, you’ll accomplish much more than focusing on what you don’t have. Ballet requires constant building, it is impossible to attain perfection for anyone. If you start from a place of “why you love to dance,” you can find your way back there when things get tough. Just keep working and it will pay off!

Are there any fun facts that you’d like to share about yourself?

A fun fact about myself...Living in Miami Beach, I’m ten blocks from the ocean. I love being able to go after a long day of dancing or on a day off. I enjoy snorkeling, scuba diving, or just a day at the beach. It wasn’t a reason for being in Miami City Ballet, but was definitely a bonus!


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