Meet the Director
Ashley Mushamba believes in the power of art to transform individuals and strengthen communities. Ashley slipped into her first pair of ballet slippers at the tender age of 5, at Pam’s Dance Studio in Antioch, TN. She immediately became drawn to the sense of power she felt on stage as a student, performer, and future leader. She founded Dancing Through the Curriculum as a vehicle to share this sense of empowerment with youth within her community.
Others began to recognize Ashley’s presence on stage during her early teenage years which resulted in several awards over the course of her high school years. These awards included “Best Dancer” and landing major roles in various school production. Ashley often describes the ways in which her high school dance program made a significant impact on who she is today. After graduating from high school, Ashley had a strong desire to share her love for dancing with youth in the community. As a result, she began working with children at the Boys & Girls Club, as the dance instructor, while matriculating through college at Fisk University.
Based on her performance at the Boys & Girls Club, in addition to the experience she gained as a company dancer of Fisk University’s “Orchesis,” directed by Dr. Peter Fields, she was hired on as the dance director for a non-profit called “Moves and Grooves.” This organization sought to use ARTS as a platform to engage youth in valuable life skills. She deeply enjoyed her work within this organization, which motivated her to find other ways in which to make a deeper impact on children in her own community.
In pursuit of this goal, she began working as a public school teacher for over 7 years in Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools, after graduating from Fisk University with a degree in Political Science. In order to have a deeper understanding of pedagogy, she continued her education at Trevecca Nazarene University to obtain her M.A.T., and Lipscomb University to obtain her Ed.D in Educational Leadership. The knowledge she obtained in both of these programs of study, coupled with her love for dance, provided the framework for Dancing Through the Curriculum.
In 2012, Ashley decided it was time to create the career for which she always dreamed, which included using the art of dance as a tool to motivate students to learn in the classroom. As a teacher, she noticed how her students were highly engaged during her kinesthetic lessons and school programs that involved movement such as school plays, outside relays, physical education, and recess. She began reading texts from dance educators such as Ann Gilbert and Susan Griss and became more interested in dance education.
In 2013, Dancing Through the Curriculum (DTC) was founded to provide enriching experiences for youth in inner city communities, with a particular focus on young girls of color. DTC offers academic enrichment and various disciplines of dance at discounted rates so that classes are accessible to all students. As the Executive Director of DTC Ashley oversees after-school sites, dance camps, and the studio dance division to ensure that each program provides quality opportunities for all children to experience dance, while also receiving academic support through creative instruction. In addition, she works tirelessly to secure partnerships and raise funding for the program to ensure that every child who has a heart for dance has an opportunity to experience the art form regardless of race, gender, or socioeconomic status.
Ashley looks forward to expanding her vision of educating, exposing, and empowering young girls of color by implementing her program in schools and community centers s across the state of Tennessee. “Everyone should be afforded the dance experience regardless of age, race, sex, or socioeconomic status,” Ashley explains, and that is truly what she advocates for everyday.