Ashley Talluto

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What are you currently working on?

I am currently Velma (one of the Jet girls) and dance captain on the 2nd National Tour of West Side Story.

Where are you based out of?

I live in New York City with my husband Joe and our cat Miles. I was born and raised in North Reading, Massachusetts about a half an hour north of Boston.

When did you start training?

I wouldn’t quite say started training, but I started taking dance class at 4 years old. I immediately fell in love with it. Everything about the music, costumes, and expressing myself at that young of an age was for me. At the same time my mother put me into soccer. I would do cartwheels out in the field and pull up the grass. We definitely knew that I was more suited for a dance studio than a soccer field.

I got more serious about taking class and training around 10 years old. At the time I began to understand that I had to focus on technique to really be able to express myself. At that time I started taking more ballet classes.

When did you decide that you wanted to be a dancer?

In fifth grade one of my teachers encouraged me to audition for The Albany Berkshire Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker. Needless to say I was cast as Clara. I remember seeing the professionals and really being treated like one. That made me realize that this was truly something I wanted to pursue. It was also the first time that I performed in a professional production. I loved the dancing, but also the fact that I played a character and was part of the story.

Who were your mentors and what role did they play in your growth as an artist?

My first mentor is Leslie Woodies. She taught me both in high school at The Boston Ballet School as well as at The Boston Conservatory. Leslie was a principal dancer with Boston Ballet and went on to move to New York City and play Cassie in A Chorus Line on Broadway. She had a vibrant career that spanned from ballet, to broadway, to film. She was a huge inspiration to me and truly taught me that anything was possible. Leslie showed me that you could be a ballet dancer and sing and perform in musical theater. She taught me to constantly push my boundaries and to not be satisfied until I got to my next goal. She taught me that its ok to continue to redefine yourself. As an artist I have transitioned quite a bit from ballet dancer, to contemporary dancer, to theater dancer etc. I know that if I really follow what inspires me that I will be able to express myself in any medium.

My second mentor was also a teacher that I had at Boston Ballet, Carol Roderick. Carol would never let any of her students settle. She knew that each and everyone of us had our own potential and she wanted us all to excel. She taught me that you may have to make sacrifices to truly commit to yourself and your art.

What’s your favorite memory on stage?

My favorite memory on stage was opening night of The West Side Story tour at the Orpheum Theater in Memphis, Tennessee. The moment the whole cast entered the stage for Dance at The Gym. It is such a powerful moment in the show with the music and electrifying energy.

What is your favorite place you have ever performed?

My favorite experience performing so far has been in Anchorage, Alaska. The West Side Story tour was there for two weeks this past January. It was such an incredibly beautiful and removed place, but the people and community were so appreciative and generous to us for bringing our art to them.

What has been your greatest triumph to date?

My greatest triumph to date has been booking West Side Story. Since graduating college in 2008 I had auditioned for this show over 13 times! I knew that I would not be satisfied in my career until I performed in West Side Story.

Was there a particular performance that changed your life or changed you as a dancer?

In college at The Boston Conservatory my senior production was a full piece of improvisation. That piece really allowed me to push beyond the constraints of technique and steps and truly find the freedom in my dancing. Each night was a completely new experience on stage and I learned so much from the uncertainty and just trusting myself and the dancers around me.

Do you have pre-show ritual or superstition?

I say to myself “Nail It!”

Where do you see yourself in 15 year?

In 15 years I will definitely still be a part of this industry. I hope to really hone in on my creativity and be choreographing and inspiring the next generation of dancers.

What inspires you to keep going?

This industry is constantly changing and shifting. You never know what new production is going to be perfectly suited for you or will inspire you in a new way. I love seeing the way the dance, music, aerial arts and basically any mode of creativity is used today. My friends are also huge inspirations. I have friends who are constantly creating their own works and pushing boundaries in this business.

List five inspirations:

My family
My husband Joe
My good friend and fellow performer Zanza Steinberg who climed Mt. Kilimanjaro last year with Awareness Through Dance to raise money for Giving Africa and is artistic director for Alma Dance Company NYC.
Frank Sinatra
Bob Fosse

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