Boston Ballet Prima Ashley Ellis Writes a Letter to Her Teenage Self

October 17, 2018

Boston Ballet principal Ashley Ellis’ dancing is the perfect pairing of ethereal grace and punchy musicality. The Torrance, CA, native began training at South Bay Ballet at age 6, and attended the School of American Ballet summer program in 1998. In 2001, she was accepted into American Ballet Theatre’s Studio Company, and the following year, she joined ABT’s corps de ballet. In 2007, she became a founding member of Corella Ballet Castilla y León in Spain, under the direction of Angel Corella. Three years later, she headed back to the States and danced with Sarasota Ballet before joining Boston Ballet as a second soloist in 2011. In 2013, she was promoted to principal dancer. Catch her performing this season in the company’s Nutcracker. —Courtney Bowers

To my younger self,

You have great things awaiting you, and the most wonderful and exciting thing is that you could never have planned exactly how it will all happen. While you embark on your exciting journey, I have a few tips and thoughts to share with you.

Don’t be afraid to go for it—all of it. Everyone tells you to, but you tend to be hesitant.
There’s no need. Going for things now will only give you more time to enjoy dance once you’ve realized all that you’re able to do. Remember that just because you’re kind doesn’t mean you’re not strong. Everyone has something special to offer and you should be confident in your strengths.

At age 15 at American Ballet Theatre’s summer intensive (photo by Rosalie O’Connor, courtesy Ellis)

When you’re feeling down, try hard to focus on what makes you happy, and think of how you can improve your situation. Know that this period will pass. You haven’t realized it yet, but you’re tenacious. You may feel like giving up sometimes, but you won’t. You’ll always find a way to push through, and you’ll come out on the other side even stronger and with more perspective.

Don’t worry. Life will happen. You’ll accomplish great things. You’ll see the world.
You’ll fall in love. You’ll encounter people and places that’ll encourage you to grow
into a well-rounded person. This will all happen at its own pace, when it’s meant to.

Enjoy all that life has to offer. Remind yourself to take it all in and not allow stress or worry to block out the beauty right in front of you. There are always things and people to be grateful for, and always things to look forward to.

With love and encouragement,


A version of this story appeared in the November 2018 issue of
Dance Spirit with the title “Letter to My Teenage Self: Ashley Ellis.”