LOURDES LOPEZ / ARTISTIC DIRECTOR

Making Nutcracker Memories on Instagram

It has been said that this time of the year is the most wonderful and we can’t agree more! Tomorrow, we open George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker™ at the Adrienne Arsht Center, starting our our magical journey into a world of dancing snowflakes, sweets and flowers for the next three weeks, until our final performance at the Broward Center on January 5, 2014. With every holiday tradition comes brand new memories, so to capture the special backstage moments on Instagram is corps de ballet dancer Ashley Knox.

Ashley Knox

Ashley Knox

For audiences and dancers alike, The Nutcracker holds a special place in our hearts as a beloved holiday tradition. Here, Ashley tells us what makes The Nutcracker so meaningful to her:

Ever since I was a little girl I would get so excited for The Nutcracker — the holidays wouldn’t be the same without it! All of the rehearsals and the chance to perform made it such a magical time. I still get that same nostalgic feeling every Nutcracker season. 

Ashley performing in 'Marzipan'.

Ashley performing in ‘Marzipan’.

Join Ashley and the rest of our dancers on a magical journey with George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker™.

Adrienne Arsht Center – December 19-24
Kravis Center – December 27-30
Broward Center – January 3-5

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Ashley Knox Guests on Instagram!

After a 5-week summer hiatus, the dancers have returned to our studios for 2-weeks of West Side Story Suite rehearsals. Lucky for us, dancer Ashley Knox will be capturing all of the dancing, SINGING and maybe even a rumble on Instagram! As an added perk, répétiteur Jean-Pierre Frohlich from the Robbins Rights Trust will be working with the dancers to make sure they do not miss a beat.  Having worked with Jerome Robbins, himself, Jean-Pierre will help ensure that our production of this timeless, crowd-favorite will be performed as originally intended by Mr. Robbins. We will also be sneaking in a few rehearsals of Balanchine’s Serenade and Concerto Barocco, this week, so follow Ashley on Instagram #AshleyMCBphotos for an exclusive sneak peek!

Ashley Knox

SUMMER DANCER UPDATE: We caught up with Ashely to see how she has been keeping busy during her 5-week summer break. Check out the fun pics from her trips!

Ashley enjoyed spending time in the mountains in Boise, Idaho with former MCB dancer Elizabeth Keller.

Next, she got to see Elizabeth Smedley, who is also a former dancer with MCB, in Phoenix, Arizona during a bittersweet flight layover :-)

Finally, she spent two weeks at home in Michigan with her family and friends.

In Michigan, Ashley celebrated her nephew's first birthday and saw him take his first steps!!

Ashley Knox Features THE MASTERS on Instagram

Corps dancer Ashley Knox will be “running the show” (in terms of our Instagram feed) for the opening of Program III: The Masters at the Kravis Center.  She will be documenting the best of ballet with works by George Balanchine and the in-demand choreographer from Russia, Alexei Ratmansky.  Check out her pictures #AshleyMCBPhotos.

Ashely Knox

Fun Fact about Ashley: She LOVES taking photos and is very happy to be able to share her pictures from her perspective with our MCB followers!

Photo © Gio Alma

Remembering MCB School Days – Ashley

Post by Ashley Knox, MCB Corps de Ballet

Performing in Miami City Ballet School’s Showcase was a defining moment in my life. The experience helped me make the decision to become a professional dancer. This may seem late to other aspiring or professional dancers, but at that point in my life I was still undecided between college and ballet. My mind started to change once I stepped on stage. It was as if I had stepped into a dream, a dream not everyone has the chance to live.

Ashley Knox (as a student) in Serenade. Choreography © George Balanchine © The George Balanchine Trust.

That year we performed at The Jackie Gleason Theater, now known as the Fillmore. I was cast as the “Russian Girl” in George Balanchine’s Serenade. It was such a challenging role, very technical with high leaps and fast turns. I developed so much as a dancer with the opportunity of working with Nancy Raffa and Eric Quillier. Within the school environment I was able to slowly build strength and confidence over months of rehearsing. The hard work definitely paid off. By the time we were in the theater, I was ready and so excited! I loved, and still love, every aspect of performing — from preparing my shoes to applying my stage makeup and feeling the adrenaline rush while the overture begins. I had such a wonderful time dancing with my friends to the music of Tchaikovsky in beautiful long light blue tutus…what a dream. I remember one moment in particular, just before the “Russian Dance” in the ballet. The “Russian Girl” advances forward through the other dancers as if time has stopped only for her. She appears to have no awareness of her surroundings as the other corps girls cross in front and behind her. It was my favorite part and I remember thinking “take this all in, this may be your last time dancing on stage.” A chill came over me and I danced like I had never danced before. Then and there I realized I couldn’t possibly give this up! Ten years later I am still dancing with Miami City Ballet. I often think of my experience in the School to remind myself why I dance: because I love being a part of the magic. I hope that I help enchant the audience and take them to another world. I am so grateful to Edward and Linda Villella for their dedication to the School and to the Company. I would also like to express my appreciation for the support of donors. As a scholarship student, I would have never been able to live my dreams without their help.

Ashley Knox in Viscera. Photo © Mitchell Zachs

Open Barre…From Behind the Barre

Post by Ashley Knox, Corps de Ballet

This weekend, Miami audiences will have the unique opportunity to enjoy a performance by Miami City Ballet in the intimate setting of the Lynn & Louis Wolfson, II Theatre. This venue also offers the dancers a unique onstage experience. For us, inviting you to our Open Barre Dance Series is like inviting you into our living rooms. We perform in the very studio where we approach the barre each day to prepare for the rehearsals needed for every show MCB presents. This is where we dance, but also where we laugh, cry, sweat, stumble, persevere, create, and breathe as people, friends, and artists. It becomes our second home. In this setting, the audience is able to get up close and personal to the performers. You are able to hear each step we take as our pointe shoes lightly tap the floor, see every detail of our costumes where each bead has been carefully hand sewn, and practically hear the beating of our hearts as we dance solely from them.

But how are things seen from behind the barre? Open Barre is certainly a bonding experience for the dancers. Getting ready and warming up in one studio all together while blasting our favorite songs, definitely generates high energy and lots of laughs. Usually we listen to the orchestra while warming up, here we listen to the crowd settling in just five feet away from the edge of our dancing space. The closeness of the audience is our main challenge as we try to stay focused. While performing at Adrienne Arsht Center, for example, looking out from the stage we see mainly darkness and only the outline of the audience seated in their seats. During performances of Open Barre, there are times where we actually feel as if we meet eyes with our spectators which can be somewhat alarming. We can also make out familiar faces, and find our family and friends. Even though we are used to being on display and always giving our all, feeling the presence of the audience so close makes us even more aware of our every move. Everything from our facial expressions to our ballet technique is more pronounced and exposed. Like looking through a magnifying glass. It does, however, add a certain thrill to our performance.

This weekend I will have the chance to reverse roles and be among the audience! I’m looking forward to watching the concert version of Balanchine’s Who Cares? and Edward Villella’s “Mambo: Mambo No. 2 a.m.”  Who Cares? has fun yet extremely challenging variations and three different pas de deux set to jazzy, romantic Gershwin music. “Mambo” gives the dancers a chance to let loose and shake it to some latin rhythms. This program demonstrates the Company’s diversity, from ballerina to ballroom, and will be followed by a Q&A with Edward Villella.

Hopefully, insight from a dancer’s perspective will enhance your experience at the Open Barre Dance Series. See you there!

Meet the Dancers – Ashley Knox

As the Marzipan Shepherdess in George Balanchine's The Nutcracker™. Choreography by George Balanchine © The George Balanchine Trust. Photo by Alex Dufaur.

With my sister Amanda Caveney

Bugaku Girl Talk

Wigs, robes, tutus, and bikinis in a dressing room can only mean one thing: Bugaku! The Company is performing this George Balanchine piece in Program I of the 25th Anniversary Season which opens today! Sara Esty, Zoe Zien, Ashley Knox, and Leigh-Ann Esty had a chat about what it’s like to dance in the corps of this erotic ballet, and who was present during rehearsals.

Don’t miss the first program of the most exciting season yet, which also includes Jerome Robbins’ Fanfare and George Balanchine’s Theme and Variations.

Love Series – Callie and Didier

These two are practically on their way down the isle! Engaged dancers Callie Manning, MCB Soloist, and Didier Bramaz, MCB Principal Soloist, take part in our Love Series. Watch as they look lovingly at each other while giving you a glimpse into their lives.

More MCB LOVE!

Ashley Knox, MCB Corps de Ballet, and Alex Dufaur, former MCB dancer, tied the knot a few years ago and are living happily ever after. Plus, Alex isn’t just an MCB alumni, he also photographs the Company.