Professional Artists to Portray Sugar Plum Fairy and Cavalier in Western Arkansas Ballet’s Production of The Nutcracker
Western Arkansas Ballet is proud to announce their Guest Artists for the 37th Annual performance of The Nutcracker. Our Sugar Plum Fairy and Cavalier are Ashley Murphy-Wilson and Nicholas Cowden. The Sugar Plum Fairy is the benevolent ruler of the Kingdom of Sweets and greets Clara and the Nutcracker Prince when they visit in Act II of the ballet. She and her Cavalier perform a pas de deux called “The Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy”.
Ashley Murphy-Wilson of Shreveport, Louisiana is in her eighth season with The Washington Ballet after dancing for 13 years with Dance Theatre of Harlem. In 2002, she trained and performed with DTH’s Dancing Through Barriers® Ensemble. The following year, she was accepted into the DTH Company and toured with them performing in ballets such as Firebird, Serenade, The Four Temperaments, and Concerto Barocco. Murphy-Wilson has also taught for Dance Theatre of Harlem’s Pre-Professional Residency at the Kennedy Center. She had the honor of performing at The White House, on BET, and Jeopardy. She also represented the U.S. in cultural exchange programs in Jamaica and Honduras. During Dance Theatre of Harlem’s eight year hiatus, she was influential in helping to restore the company by performing in the Dance Theatre of Harlem Ensemble that continued to share the company’s legacy. When the DTH Company returned in 2012, Murphy-Wilson performed many principal roles in ballets including Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux, Glinka, Nacho Duato’s Coming Together, Agon, and Ulysses Dove’s Dancing on the Front Porch of Heaven in addition to many others. She was also featured on the cover of Pointe Magazine with Misty Copeland and Ebony Williams, in a Verizon Wireless commercial, and in the Black Ballerina documentary streaming on Amazon Prime Video. Mrs. Murphy-Wilson hopes that her presence in ballet serves as inspiration to young aspiring dancers of all backgrounds.
Nicholas Cowden began his ballet training at the age of nine at Virginia Ballet Company under the direction of Tish Cordova. He continued his training at Southold Dance Theatre in South Bend, Indiana studying with Erica Fischbach and JoAnn Barkes. In 2014, Cowden was accepted into the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis (JKO) School at American Ballet Theatre and studied under Franco DeVita, Raymond Lukens, Martine Van Hamel, and Julie Kent. In 2016, Cowden joined The Washington Ballet Trainee Program under the continued tutelage of Julie Kent, Xiomara Reyes and Rinat Imaev. Cowden was promoted to the Studio Company in 2018 and into the main Company in 2022. His repertoire with The Washington Ballet includes Fredrick Ashton’s Birthday Offering, George Balanchine’s Allegro Brillante, and Merce Cunningham’s Duets.
See these talented dancers and a cast of over 100 local children and adults perform in The Nutcracker Saturday, December 17 at 7:00 PM and Sunday, December 18 at 2:00 PM. Performances take place at the ArcBest Corporation Performing Arts Center at 55 South 7th Street, Fort Smith. Tickets are available for purchase at www.waballet.org. Adult tickets are available for $30. Child and student tickets (with a valid student ID) are available for $20. Please call 479.785.0152 for more information.