Ashley Tuttle

The former ABT principal reunites with Twyla Tharp.

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What will you do after this?
I don't know. If Twyla has any other projects and is interested in using me, I would love to do that. I'm getting some offers to teach a little bit outside the city. I would love to do some Nutcrackers. I'm putting out feelers. Last time, for whatever reasons, I withdrew from the dance community on such a big level. I stopped going to class and seeing things, but this time I can't withdraw. I need to be present, because this is my love. I just want to dance.

What are your days like with this show?
Because I'm not in the first cast, my days are a little more open. Well, it depends. Today we had two hours of rehearsal for the guys. People have started having vacation time. Twyla shows have a tendency to have injuries, so we've had quite a bit. On Wednesdays, I do the matinee, and of course, I have to be here for every show. By half-hour, so 7:30 until the end.

Because you're a swing?
Yes. You never know what could happen. Somebody could go down immediately, and you'd have to put on a costume. But the show is short; in the sense of your life, it's over by ten, so it's not horrible, and the salary's great. There's health insurance, which wasn't always there [for me] in the last few years.

Why do you think it's closing?
I don't know. Obviously ticket sales have not been through the roof. It's a big house. It's strange to me, because I think it's a beautiful show. It's a dance show like Movin' Out, but not like typical Broadway dance shows. It has a different kind of energy behind it. I don't know why it didn't catch as much flame as it should have, because the people who come love it. Especially the older generation. Their eyes water during "My Way," and everyone seems to enjoy it. At Movin' Out in Chicago, we learned a big lesson about how you have to slowly feed a Broadway audience, because they're not necessarily used to seeing storyline progress through movement. Ballet audiences are more used to that, except they don't really understand what's going on. There are huge mime scenes in Swan Lake, let's say, and I'm sure a lot of the audience doesn't know what it means, but they go with it. I think the Broadway audience is like, What's going on? Maybe people aren't able to understand right away. It's strange to me that there would still be a question. I think certain parts of the show are beautiful. "One for My Baby" is stunning. "That's Life" is pretty. I think "Take Five" is great.

I do too, I absolutely love that dance.
I think it's really cool. And "My Way," of course, is beautiful. I haven't seen Memphis and all of these things. I don't know why they're doing so well. I don't know if it has to do with the way it was advertised? I don't know if people thought they were coming to something that was more talk instead of dance? It's unfortunate that the show wasn't acknowledged as much as I had hoped in the Tony nominations. But in Movin' Out, we were acknowledged as actors in the Broadway community, and that was such an honor, and they still did that. They nominated [Come Fly Away's] Karine Plantadit. Good for dance. If we can look at a bigger picture, it's great that dancers are being acknowledged as actors.

How do you train now?
I take class every day—or try to anyway—at Steps with Willy Burmann, usually, or Alex Tressor. He's Krammy's [School of American Ballet faculty member Andrei Kramarevsky] son. Both teachers have been very supportive of me over the years, especially when I would be coming to class not feeling well and not being able to get through it because I felt so sick. Obviously, Willy was there when my ABT career ended, so he knew what I was going through, and Alex Tressor is a very strong individual. They're both very much about a positive outlook, and when upsetting things happen, it's hard to always maintain that. When you have people around you who are bright lights—you know how they say you need to have so much sunlight in your life for the vitamin D? I think personalities are like that too; they can make you healthier. As you know, when you do something everyday, you don't necessarily see your progress; at least in my case, I keep raising the level. It's like you do your first show—well, that was great because it was your first one. Your second show, there's always a problem because you've raised your expectation, but you don't have the experience to get to that level, so you feel like a bad second show. It's nice to have guidance around you.

Check out our past coverage of Ashley Tuttle:
Holding court ABT's divine Ashley Tuttle finds inspiration in Balanchine—and basketball.
Turning points The good-bye girl.

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