“People thought it was due to injury, but it wasn’t” she explained.
“I was way too embarrassed to reveal the truth at that moment, but I was strongly encouraged not to perform because of my appearance. So, instead, I respectfully sat in the audience,” she said, her voice cracking. A heartbreaking photo from the big night shows her posing with her husband, Peter de Florio and their daughter, Violet, on the red carpet.
From the audience, she said she “watched another ballerina dance in my place, while I sat next to my daughter, who takes ballet.”
“But honestly as I sat there and even especially now I think about her mental health in the future, I fear for all of our children,” she said.
This year’s gala honored New York City Ballet Vice Chair Sarah Jessica Parker “for her vision and leadership of the Fall Fashion Gala,” organizers said.
The high-powered gala chairs included Georgina Bloomberg, daughter of former Mayor Michael Bloomberg; Bravo host/producer Andy Cohen, and actors Laverne Cox and Claire Danes.
Bouder appeared to be looking forward to the glitz and glamour of the event — and getting back on the “stage that I love.”
On Sept 13 she channeled rapper LL Cool J, posting to Instagram: “Don’t call it a comeback, I’ve been here for years! Lol, over 22 to be exact. This is my 23rd season with @nycballet and in just one week, I’ll be back on stage at Lincoln Center since October 12, 2021. This injury, after the long COVID break, sent me for a loop, both physically and mentally. It’s been a difficult year for me in terms of my career choice, but I’m finally coming out on the other side.”
She continued: “My body feels different. My mind is different. But I’m me. And I’m here. And I’ll be back on the stage that I love. I’ll be dancing this gorgeous gem of a ballet on opening night September 20, and then again on September 23 and 30. You can also catch me sparkling in first movement Symphony in C at the gala on September 28.”
She joyfully danced with the ballet on Sept. 20, 23 and even on the 30th, two days after the marquee event, the gala.
The reason for her 21-minute post — which has already racked up 71,000 views — was not to “throw anyone or any institution under the bus,” she explained.
“I’d like to move beyond the enticement of the ‘ballet body’ and move to the idea of the ‘healthy body,’” she told The Post.
“Almost nothing about ballet is natural, therefore physical and mental injuries occur. From the hundreds of stories I’ve read over the past two days, since my post, most of our stories are similar. They are heartbreakingly similar. May this be a restart and reignition of an important change in the dance world,” she continued.
In her post, she said body shaming is a sad systemic part of ballet.
“I cant stay silent anymore. I’m past the embarrassment. I’m tired of it. … I want to normalize speaking up about body-shaming,” she said.
Bouder said she has so far received “hundreds of messages” of support.
“Thank you for your openness and honesty on such a difficult and taboo subject that so many of us have faced in the dance world. 👏 You are a true ballet icon, an inspiration, and a force to be reckoned with both on and off the stage. Brava 💛💛💛,” wrote one.
“After all the sh-tty experiences, I still love dancing, and I still love my point shoes and my tutu,” she confessed in the Instagram video.
Bouder was named an apprentice with New York City Ballet in June 2000 and became a member of the corps de ballet that October, according to nycballet.com. She was promoted to the rank of soloist in February 2004, and in January 2005, Bouder was promoted to principal dancer, the site says.
She also heads her own company, The Ashley Bouder Project, an arts collaboration “dedicated to promoting women and diversity in creative and leadership roles in the performing arts world.”
As long as she’s been a professional she’s endured her share of comments about her weight and body, she said on the Instagram video.
Once when she was in upstate Saratoga for the company’s summer season, she was pulled aside by “an influential ballet mistress” and told, “the big boss really likes me and wanted to use me in bigger roles — right away — but in order for that to happen, I should think about losing five to 10 pounds.”
Just 16 years old at the time, Bouder said she wasn’t “shocked,” so she nodded, and “of course I lost the weight and I started to land parts.”
She now thinks, “What if I hadn’t lost that weight? I really don’t think that my career would be what it is today.”
The New York City Ballet is no stranger to offstage drama.