Having trained as a ballerina since she was seven years old, Ashleigh Morrow has been consumed with the ballet for most of her life. She discovered UT Martin's dance education program, a program unique in the state of Tennessee and an up-and-coming major at UT Martin, and knew that she would be able to pursue her dreams of one day opening her own studio.
As soon as she walked onto the UT Martin campus, she felt at home. After growing up in Nashville and studying ballet most of her life, Morrow was ready to pursue her college degree in a smaller town, where she knew she could focus on developing her dance skills without being overwhelmed by the competitive atmosphere of a big city.
"When I came here, I was able to express myself more and learn more styles," Morrow said. She continued, "I even created a hip hop piece. I came here for versatility."
While Morrow's concentration and passion remain focused on ballet. Around campus Morrow is often refer her to as "the ballet girl." The program has allowed Morrow to explore her interests in other styles of dance. From ballet to hip hop to contemporary, Morrow will be well versed in a variety of styles by the time she graduates. With her a diverse background in dance, she hopes to one day open her own dance studio.
This year over spring break, Morrow traveled to New York City with the dance ensemble where they participated in dance classes at a couple of dance studios in the city. It was there that Morrow was able to visit the dance studio that inspired her to continue dancing in college and want to one day open her own dance studio.
Of her dream, she said, "I really want to become a part of the Alvin Ailey Dance Academy in New York City." She continued, "It's a very diverse studio. We got to go to the school. Just even being able to stand next to the building was awesome. The whole experience was awesome."
After having the opportunity to see the dance studio she aspires to become a part of reaffirmed that Morrow is taking the right steps toward pursing her dreams.
"When I was younger, I tried everything, gymnastics, swimming... and dancing is what I liked doing the most. When I dance, it's like a relief. When I went to classes, I loved learning new things. I love performing. I love wearing my tutu. And when I came here and got to choreograph, I got to use my own thoughts, use my own costumes. I got to create what I wanted. I felt free, and it gave me the chance to be who I want to be. It's what inspired me to want to open my own dance studio or school for the arts one day."
Currently, Morrow is working on solo ballet routine she will dance in the fall semester dance ensemble performance, is teaching a class at the Stepz Dance Studio in Union City, and is a member of the Collegiate Dance Association.