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Born in Sydney, Australia, Ashleigh Bennett trained at The Australian Ballet School and completed Queensland Ballet’s Pre-Professional Programme. She danced with The Australian Ballet, Queensland Ballet and West Australian Ballet before joining Hong Kong Ballet as a Corps de Ballet member in 2018.
With HKB, she has danced the featured role of Big Swan in John Meehan’s Swan Lake and Caterpillar in Septime Webre’s ALICE (in wonderland). She also performed in Webre and Charla Genn’s Giselle, Terence Kohler’s The Nutcracker, Nina Ananiashvili’s Don Quixote, Webre’s The Great Gatsby, Romeo + Juliet and Ballet Classics for Children: Cinderella, George Balanchine’s Jewels and Justin Peck’s Year of the Rabbit. Prior to joining HKB, she danced the featured roles of Queen of the Dryads in Dame Lucette Aldous' Don Quixote, Arabian in Aurelian Scannella, Sandy Delasalle and Jayne Smeulders’ The Nutcracker, Fairy Godmother in Smeulders’ Cinderella and Prayer in Greg Horsman’s Coppélia. Bennett also performed in Kenneth MacMillan’s Romeo and Juliet and George Balanchine’s Serenade, Who Cares and Concerto Barocco, among others.
1. Why did you start dancing?
I actually wanted to do tap dancing to begin with! But I was 10, and my local studio at the time thought I should start ballet lessons first, because I had no dance training yet. They suggested that I start ballet to get a sense of musicality and to strengthen my ankles, and then I could switch to tap. I ended up starting tap later but loved ballet too much to switch!
2. What was the first ballet you ever performed in a principal role?
The first ballet I ever performed a principal role in was the Fairy Godmother in Jayne Smeulders' Cinderella. Coincidentally, Cinderella was also the first ballet I performed in a professional company!
3. What’s the most challenging ballet you have danced, and what made it so challenging?
One of the pieces that has challenged me the most is Chroma by Wayne McGregor. His choreography pushed me to move in ways I hadn't had an opportunity to do before, and initially I felt very out of my comfort zone. But I enjoy being challenged, and after getting to work with him and taking onboard everything he had to say, I found the whole experience extremely rewarding and definitely a highlight of my first season with Hong Kong Ballet.
4. What is the attribute you most like about yourself?
I pride myself on being reliable and somebody that others can count on. Whether it's to remember choreography, supply band-aids in the studio or provide emotional support for those around me, I find great satisfaction in helping others.
5. What would you be if you were not a dancer?
If I wasn't a dancer, I would either own a patisserie or be a wedding planner.
6. What are your hobbies?
My hobbies include baking for my family and friends, taking my dog for a walk or reading.
7. What is your favorite movie/book?
I'm a massive Harry Potter fan!! I read the first three books before I was nine. Otherwise, I find the historical fiction of Philippa Gregory really interesting.
8. Where is the most interesting place you have ever visited or want to visit?
After reading about the War of the Roses in English history, I found it so interesting visiting places like the Tower of London and Warwick Castle. For me, Rome is a city I can travel back to time and time again. There's always something new to see and so much history in those cobbled streets, not to mention the amazing food!