Merrill Ashley (published 1982)

Dublin Core


Merrill Ashley (published 1982)


Ashley talks about having preference for certain roles. She didn't think she would get the role of Sanguinic in The Four Temperaments, but then did and had very little time to prepare. She also talks about her difficulty learning certain steps.

Biographical note:

Merrill Ashley (born Linda Merrill) was born in Minneapolis and joined the School of American Ballet in 1964, and subsequently joined the New York City Ballet in 1967. George Balanchine created the principle role for her in Balade in 1980. She danced in many Balanchine creations throughout her career. She created her own touring group, Merrill Ashley and Dancers in 1981. She has retired from dance and is now a teacher at the NYCB, where she stages many Balanchine productions.


Pratt SILS 665-01, Barbara Newman

Date Created

June 14, 1980



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Is Part Of

Newman, B. (1982). Striking a balance: Dancers talk about dancing. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
Newman, B. (1992). Striking a balance: Dancers talk about dancing. New York: Limelight Editions.




Interviews recorded on cassette by Barbara Newman

Rights Holder

Barbara Newman, Merrill Ashley

Oral History Item Type Metadata

Original Format

Audio Cassette Tape

Digital Format


Digital Master

ashley_1980jun14_sidea.wav.mp3, ashley_1980jun14_sideb.wav.mp3



Bit Rate/Frequency



Barbara Newman


Merrill Ashley, 1950-


New York

Additional content

"George Balanchine once said, 'You must know what you are doing because the dancers can tell if you know or you don't know. If you know, they will do whatever you say ... If you say, "Lift both your legs and stay in the air," they will do it.' Merrill Ashley is the proof - Merrill does it, whatever it is, whatever he wants. She is the ideal paradigm for today's New York City Ballet: young, fast, strong, cool. Secure in her prodigious technique, she defies gravity and reason nonchalantly, but her face betrays a delight in her own abilities that is contagious. Intoxicated by it, you begin to believe that dancing is simple, that anyone could do it, that you could do it yourself" Barbara Newman (1982).




“Merrill Ashley (published 1982),” Dance Dialogues: Interviews by Barbara Newman, 1979-Present, accessed May 17, 2022,

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