Aesha Ash

November 5, 2008

Originally from Rochester, NY, Aesha Ash was accepted into The School of American Ballet at age 13. During her last year there, she won the lead role in Balanchine’s “Rubies” in the famed SAB workshop, as well as the Mae L. Wien Award for Outstanding Promise. Aesha began her professional career as a corps member in the New York City Ballet (where she was the only African-American woman), then went on to dance in Switzerland’s Béjart Ballet Lausanne. After struggling in Switzerland, Aesha almost said goodbye to the dance world altogether, but found new life as a member of Alonzo King’s LINES Ballet—a distinctly multicultural contemporary ballet company. She’s currently working as a freelance dancer. —Kathleen Glynn


Dear Aesha,

Focus on building yourself up and leave the tearing down to others. Beating yourself up won’t make you better; it will only be detrimental. If you allow yourself to enter this pool of negativity, you’ll spend most of your career—and life—trying to find a way out.

Since your interest in ballet came at a later age than most, you’ll be a little behind the other dancers. That’s fine. Keep taking the corrections in class that are intended for other people as if they were for you. And search beyond your day-to-day instruction. The more you learn, and the more people you learn from, the more you will grow.

Versatility is something you admire, so hang on to that. You will eventually go places and work with choreographers where it will come in handy. But in order to truly grow, it’s imperative you keep your mind open and free from old habits. Each day is a fresh start and a new chance for discovery. Hold on to this truth, and take advantage of every opportunity to discover who you are as a dancer. No individual can put limitations on you unless you give them the power. You’re more powerful than you know.

Most importantly, dance as if no one’s watching. You’ll hear this a thousand times, but it’s important. Don’t waste time wondering what others think of you. Remember, Aesha, be kind to yourself!