By Miranda McDonald for The Voice-Tribune
February 28th, 2019
Ashley Thursby can still recall the precise moment she knew she wanted to be a professional ballerina. She was five years old, sitting at home with her mother and watching a performance of “The Nutcracker” on PBS. It was the first time she had ever seen a ballet. Now in her thirties, she has 11 years as a professional dancer under her belt and was recently cast as the face of the Louisville Ballet’s 2018 production of “The Nutcracker” for her highly-coveted role as the Sugar Plum Fairy. To say that things have come full-circle for Thursby would be completely accurate. However, not being one to settle, the dancer is looking to the future and contemplating how she can use her craft to help others.
The bar area is buzzing in Proof on Main when I meet Thursby, and she is accompanied by Cherie Perez, the ballet’s marketing director. Many credit Perez for helping take the Louisville Ballet into a new and modern direction with her witty promotion tactics and unconventional methods in branding (i.e. the strategically-placed “Dear, Chris” billboards the company used to announce the new season’s theme of romance, which actually had its own Reddit thread and had locals completely reeling for weeks).
“Are you all hungry?” inquires Thursby with a slight tone of eagerness in her voice. She just finished her second performance of the day in “The Nutcracker” and looks delighted to just be resting on the large leather couch we are sharing. Perez responds with an affirmative nod, while I take a moment to note my adoration for the restaurant’s gnocchi.
After Thursby and I decide to split the bison burger and plate full of fries, we begin to discuss how dance has shaped her life.