Ailey Dancer Jetés Through the Day



Ashley Simpson is an Ailey/Fordham B.F.A. dance major.


The daily grind of an Ailey/Fordham B.F.A. dance major varies from student to student, but is almost always a constant struggle. Talk to any of us and there’s a high chance you will listen to us gripe about the rehearsal we have to run to after a night class, the jobs we are trying to balance, how sore we are or the choreography we have to remember and think of. Apologies from all of us, but hey, it comes with the profession.

The beauty of being a dance major is that we get to choose our classes first in order to meet all of our requirements, but the tricky part is making sure our schedules are both practical and stress-free. As a junior in the program, I am a little better at crafting my schedule to avoid breakdowns in the middle of my day as I run from Ailey to Fordham and back. Here’s what one of my typical days looks like:

7:35 a.m. — I wake up and snooze my alarm (who doesn’t?). I start to get ready for the day by putting pink tights and a leotard on under my regular clothes (and a ton of layers) before grabbing an apple and heading to my 8:30 a.m. academic class — Spanish.

9:45 a.m. — Spanish ends and I take the elevator to go to my next academic of the day — Ethical Issues in Media, which counts towards my communications minor.

11:15 a.m. — I practically sprint out the door (my apologies to Professor Foley) to get to my 11:30 a.m. ballet class at Ailey on time. I just make it, and grab a spot at the barre so that I can get into dance mode as efficiently as possible. Because it is so cold out, I have a harder time warming up and usually have to take extra care in going through the movements specifically to avoid injuries.

1 p.m. — I have 30 minutes for lunch. Nine times out of 10 I forget to pack one, so I take my undeserving self to the deli right outside of Ailey for a bagel.

1:30 p.m. — My next class is Modern Partnering, which I love because it is so small. The class is meant to train a dancer’s partnering skills in a more modern setting, working on shifting weight between myself and my partner, and learning how to lift and support each other. It is more improv-based and less focused on technique, so I often get to try new things with some of my best friends.

2:50 p.m. — After partnering ends, my next class is Dance Composition at 4:30 p.m., so I have about an hour and a half to myself. I usually spend this time either running to office hours, studying, napping or coming up with choreography. In dance composition, we usually have assignments where we need to create a certain amount of choreography based on prompts that our instructor gives us. Right now, I am working on a duet inspired by the spatial design of a late Wassily Kandinsky painting.

5:50 p.m. — After composition, I am done with classes for the day (Woo!). I head to my room in McMahon and make a quick dinner (Shout out to Trader Joe’s for supplying all of my culinary needs and desires).

8 p.m. — I head back to Ailey for a student-run rehearsal. I love night rehearsals because I get to explore different styles and really delve into movement research and the creations of my peers. Right now, I am in student-run pieces for The Ailey School’s Global Harmony and Independent Study performances.

10 p.m. — After I get back to McMahon, I usually head straight to the library either to print an assignment or to work on homework that is due the next day. Although it may not seem so at times, the Ailey/Fordham B.F.A. is incredibly rewarding. Once my day is completely done I go to sleep as soon as possible so that I can wake up with energy and do it all again tomorrow.