Ashton Gordon at the National Ballet School of Canada
We recently sat down with Ashton Gordon to discuss her move last fall to the National Ballet School of Canada and reminisce on her time training at the Central Florida Ballet.
Ashton Gordon came to the Central Florida Ballet (CFB) from a local competition studio. Her teacher recognized a deeper focus in ballet at age 8 and recommended her to join CFB's official school: The Ballet Academy of Central Florida. She progressed quickly, going on pointe at age 9 then competed in the World Ballet Competition the following year and took the Bronze medal in the Introductory Category. Ashton also received scholarships to Ballet West and Valentina Koslova's Dance Conservatory of New York. She was a student company member through her years at Central Florida Ballet and performed featured roles in many performances: including Maria (Clara), Spanish Lead, and Doll in The Nutcracker.
At what age did you start training at the Ballet Academy of Central Florida?
I started training at the Ballet Academy of Central Florida when I was eight years old.
What have been some of your favorite performances or experiences with the Central Florida Ballet (CFB)?
One of the best experiences I've ever had with CFB was performing Maria/Clara in The Nutcracker in Romania. It was an amazing performance opportunity, but it was also just a fun trip with the whole studio, like going on a not so relaxing vacation with all your best friends.
Ashton performing the role of Maria in the Central Florida Ballet's The Nutcracker.
Photo by: Deedee Sherman and Virginia Trudeau
How did you receive admission into the National Ballet School of Canada?
Describe a typical day.
I was accepted into the National Ballet School of Canada after attending their four week summer program in July of 2016. The whole four weeks was an audition for the year round program, but I also had to send in a video audition for the summer intensive.
In a typical day for senior students, academics run from 8:15 to 12. Ballet class is at 1, and takes an hour and forty five minutes. Then we have a fifteen minute break to put our pointe shoes on and pointe class is usually an hour and fifteen or an hour and thirty depending on if we have rehearsal afterwards. If there's no rehearsal then we will have an hour and a half of modern or yoga, ending the day at 6:30. Then we go back to residence to eat dinner and do homework until it's time for bed, then we get up and do it again!
How do you keep in touch with family and friends?
This sounds really bad but I don't really keep in touch hahaha. I've always been awful at replying to messages and I prefer to be with people in the moment. Thankfully I have friends who understand that about me and when I come home, it's like I never left. On a whim I'll just call a friend, or check in to see how they're doing and we'll talk for hours, but I'm not sure that'd be good for my grades or my social life if I did that all the time. As for my family, we just send messages randomly of things we find funny or what we think they might like, and we have a group chat that's always open for encouragement and conversation.
Have you visited any landmarks or exciting places? What is popular among locals?
The great thing about living in a big city is that there's always something to do or explore. I've been to almost all of Toronto's attractions like the CN tower, Toronto islands, Royal Ontario Museum, Art Gallery Ontario, and Casa Loma. Coffee shops are really popular with locals, but most of the students just go to the grocery store as an outing because it's only a block away and there's food there.
Ashton at Sorry Coffee Co. with a view of in Canada the background.
Ashton (2nd from right) stands in front of a Museum in Canada.
How are the classes different from CFB?
Classes here are much slower than at CFB. Mr. Vladimir and Mr. Vasile have taught me all of the ballet curriculum, and the NBS staff has been refining the movements and developing all that I learned at CFB. We also tend to keep the same class for days, even weeks, at a time to work on technique; whereas I always got fresh combinations everyday at CFB which is an essential skill for auditioning.
What did you learn from CFB that has helped you during your time there?
CFB has always encouraged me to work to my fullest potential everyday. I received positive feedback from the administration of NBS on my hard working attitude and teachability, which was a major factor in my acceptance to the school. A piece of advice I received from Mr. Vasile has stayed with me, as I know it has with many other CFB students, to not just work hard but to work smart; and I feel like that has had a huge impact on my training.
Ashton Gordon during her time training at Central Florida Ballet.
What has surprised you most?
Well for one, the weather came as a bit of a shock, even though I knew it was coming. And the building, as well as studios, are so much more beautiful in person than pictures, but other than that nothing has taken me by surprise in the best way possible. All of my expectations were met, and exceeded as far as the quality of the training, and all the students are extremely supportive of one another.
What are you looking forward to the final days in the Spring Semester and what are your summer plans?
What I'm most excited about in the spring semester is the spring showcase performance that features grades 10, 11 and 12. We will be performing Yondering by John Neumeier, which was choreographed on NBS students, as well as Balanchine's Serenade that is both challenging and incredibly beautiful. It could be anything though honestly, I just love performing!
*For information on classes at the Ballet Academy of Central Florida, please visit http://www.centralfloridaballet.com or call 407.849.9942 ext 10.