NORTH ADAMS, Mass.— Creative Soul invites dance students of all ages and experiences to explore themselves and their paths through a holistic approach to dance education.
Creative Soul owner and artistic director Ashley Oladehin's entire life has been leading up to the opening of Creative Soul. From a very young age, she has loved everything creative from music, to dance, to art, and poetry.
She quite literally felt like a creative soul.
It is that feeling that inspired the name Creative Soul, she said. The word soul acts as a reminder that we are so much more than our physical bodies, Oladehin said.
"Come as you are. Come and move in a way that feels good for you. We want you to leave feeling inspired, feeling comfortable in your own skin, feeling like you can take on the world," Oladehin said.
This path has led her to open her own school, and within a couple of months the 2,000 square foot office space, located at 37 Main Street, Suite 211, was gutted and transformed into the dance education, health, and well-being school, Creative Soul.
Oladehin said too often schools focus more on technique, the physical pursuit and competitive nature of dance rather than how it can be used as a vehicle for personal transformation.
She hopes to do things differently.
"While technique is essential in dance training, you're absolutely going to receive that here, but you're going to receive so much more," Oladehin said. "It's history and culture, and empathy, and originality, and curiosity, and risk-taking, and all those things that we just find equally important, as technique."
For Oladehin, dance has always been about healing. It is all-encompassing and allows individuals to express themselves when they can't through words alone, she said. It guides individuals in finding their artistic voice and that is what she wants to portray to her students.
In an effort to keep the focus on dance as a performative art, the school does not participate in local or national dance competitions.
The school hopes to bring people together and bridge the gap between other dance schools in the area to create a more collaborative atmosphere in the dance industry in the Berkshires.
Oladehin and her faculty are brainstorming ways to facilitate masterclasses, workshops, guest lectures from other artists, and other opportunities to bring students from other schools under one roof so they can collaborate and share their experiences.
"There's a wonderful dance community here. There are some wonderful local schools that I'm happy to be a part of and sort of bridge that gap here. I think there's always really been a passion for dance in this area," Oladehin said.
The initiative has become a family endeavor with Oladehin’s sister Alicia Girgenti and husband Olawale Oladehin working as two of the six dance and fitness instructors.
"They happen to be the people I love most in the world, and I get to work and collaborate with them," she said.
She said the instructors are passionate and talented and care about the work they do, mentoring students of all ages and abilities.
The school's youth program offers classes in creative movement, ballet, pointe, modern, improvisation, jazz, tap, and hip.
Oladehin structures youth programming tuition based on the total number of hours per week each student participates. As a student takes on more classes, the price per hour is reduced. Families have the option to pay their tuition monthly or annually.
A price chart with annual tuition discounts can be found here
For adult classes, Creative Soul offers instruction in Zumba, barre, yoga, pilates, contemporary, and salsa. They also offer an InvigoRush class that blends cardio and bodyweight-based strength movements to make participants feel invigorated and rushed.
Oladehin offers different admission options: one class is $15, five classes are $60, and ten classes are $100. Seniors 65 and over get a 10 percent discount.
Parents of children enrolled in the youth program will receive a 10 percent discount on the five and ten-class passes.