APPRECIATION: Merrill Ashley

Last week ballerina Merrill Ashley hung up her pointe shoes after 31 years with the New York City Ballet. Her predecessor, the legendary ballerina Allegra Kent, recalls what made Ashley unique:

When a cherished ballerina leaves the stage, it's a poignant, deeply emotional moment. During Merrill's final performance, the lilt and tilt of her leaps, her supercharged energy and attack revealed the athleticism, the Americanness that has typified her dancing. She first captured master choreographer George Balanchine's interest because she could do almost anything he asked, and, of course, he asked the impossible. Merrill worked long and hard to become so...

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