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WHO’S WHO IN THE CAST THERE ARE FEW CAREERS more all-consuming than ballet. It consumes dancers physically, emotionally, socially and, for Troy Schumacher and Ashley Laracey, romantically. After a decade with the New York City Ballet, the two dancers will become partners in life as well as dance, when they marry on June 14. Ashley and Troy each traveled a long road before finding their ultimate partners in one another. Ashley’s dance career got off to a rough start. “I was twoand–a-half and I cried every Saturday morning if my mom left me at the barre alone,” Ashley says. Her friends forged ahead without her until the day came when, after jealously watching their recital, she told her mother that she was ready to commit to dance. And dedicate herself she did. Ashley began her studies at age 5 with the Carty Academy of Theater Dance in Bradenton, Florida, and joined the Sarasota Ballet of Florida at 12. She continued her studies, at age 15, at the Harid Conservatory in Boca Raton, Florida, before she was spotted and invited to join the School of American Ballet, in 2001. In 2002 she became an apprentice for the New York City Ballet and joined the Company four months later. Troy, meanwhile, started off as an athletic kid with an obsession for tap dancing. he honed his skills in that genre while compulsively watching Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire movies. However, after a few years as a tap dancer, he felt it was time to branch out. He auditioned for The Nutcracker at the Atlanta Ballet and began taking ballet classes. “I didn’t have any immediate natural talent,” Troy says. “I was drawn to how difficult ballet was, though, and I devoted myself to doing it well.” The hard work paid off. He started at the Atlanta Ballet in 2000 and moved to the School of American Ballet in 2002. He was offered an apprenticeship there in 2005 and joined the Company as a member of the corps de ballet later the same year. Troy’s dogged persistence carried into his personal life. He spotted Ashley for the first time when she was an apprentice, and he only a student as well as an admirer four years her junior. He subsequently nursed a crush on her for years until the two bonded while simultaneously sidelined from the Company due to injuries. “Eventually I spilled my guts to her, and she very politely let me down and said she wasn’t looking for a boyfriend,” Troy recalls. But he wasn’t deterred. After more years passed, he finally earned himself a first date and, six years later, a fiancée.

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Two intensely driven people living and dancing together is a scenario with both advantages and challenges. “All of us as dancers at New York City Ballet are invested in our work to a level that you don’t often have in other job forms,” Troy says. “We take our work so seriously and we spend so much time thinking about it, being happy about it or being upset by setbacks. “It’s really nice to have someone that understands that. We understand each other on so many levels, and it works.” “It’s a tough situation,” Ashley agrees. “We work closely together and live together, so there are obviously tense moments that come from that intimacy. But I also never have to explain myself.” As a pair, the two are now emerging as a ballet power couple. Ashley was promoted to soloist in February 2013, a coup after 10 years in the Company, which included a freak 2004 accident that kept her off the stage for a year. “When [ballet Master in Chief] Peter Martins asked to speak with me, I thought I’d done something wrong,” Ashley says. “I was completely blindsided by the promotion. I had no idea it was even a possibility anymore. It’s given me a new sense of confidence and a new drive for the future.” Today, Ashley simultaneously serves as muse and collaborator to Troy, who is emerging as a different type of star with his experimental dance company BalletCollective, which brings together artists from a wide range of fields— dance, choreography, poetry, composition, costume design, visual art—and has them collaborate as equals in order to emerge with a cohesive vision and performance. “BalletCollective is an idea that came to me after watching the ballet Agon, which was a very close collaboration between Balanchine and Stravinsky,” Troy says. “I took the bare bones of their process and tried to develop it in a way where other art forms could influence ballet and ballet’s trajectory. We are trying to present new ideas about how to choreograph and present ballet in today’s world.” Although BalletCollective was founded in 2010, it has recently begun attracting the attention of influencers, ranging from New York Times dance critic Alastair Macaulay to fashion editor Carine Roitfeld. One thing is clear: This is a pas de deux taking the dance world by storm. ✦ —Suzanne Weinstock Klein

Profile for AVENUE Magazine

AVENUE March 2014  

Founded in 1976, AVENUE is a must-read among the city’s most discerning, stylish and savvy audiences. As Manhattan’s oldest society magazine...

AVENUE March 2014  

Founded in 1976, AVENUE is a must-read among the city’s most discerning, stylish and savvy audiences. As Manhattan’s oldest society magazine...

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