The Center Dance Faculty

Ashley and Caddy Carlisle began studying dance at the Pioneer Valley Ballet School in Northampton, MA, with Gail Collins. There, they performed leading roles in the company’s annual Nutcracker and in original works by professional choreographers. Their training included summer intensives at American Ballet Theatre, the Rock School of the Pennsylvania Ballet, and Joffrey Ballet. While pursuing a Literature major at McGill University, Ashley danced and choreographed for Mosaica Dance Company, performing in arts venues throughout Montreal. As an Ada Comstock Scholar at Smith College, Caddy majored in dance, and continued to teach, choreograph and perform in the community. Ashley and Caddy began teaching together in 2012 at the Pioneer Valley Performing Arts Charter Public School, where they were trained by Ann Biddle in the Dance Education Laboratory (DEL) model of dance education. In 2014, they founded The Center Dance Studio. They have facilitated dance residencies in public schools throughout Western Massachusetts, both through DEL-PVPA and as visiting artists funded by the Mass Cultural Council, and have produced four original works: “The Last Winter” and “Beyond Sidewalk’s End,” “A 21st Century Nutcracker,” and “The Enchanted Bookshelf,” as well as adaptations of numerous beloved picture books. Most recently, they have taken their Pre-K curriculum on the road, teaching as guest artists at public libraries in MA, CT and VT. They look forward to a summer of dance, community, sunshine and family. Visit Ashley and Caddy at The Eric Carle Museum on the first and last Friday of each month, where they will be leading literacy-based dance programs for children ages 2-7 (and caregivers of any age!).

Words from Ashley and Caddy: Throughout a difficult and destabilizing two years, watching our students dance (and dancing with them!) has been a balm and a ballast. It would be impossible to overstate the love and gratitude we feel for our Center Dance community. You add a sparkle to our lives!

Sophie Schilling is a dance artist and educator located in Western Massachusetts. She is currently on faculty at The Center Dance in Amherst, teaching elementary school ballet (Pre-Ballet and Ballet 1) and contemporary technique (Counterpoint Technique), as well as creative movement and choreography classes (Spinning Yarns and Story Arc). Sophie also facilitates The Center’s epically fun and magical summer camp programs. She is entering her third year at The University of Massachusetts Amherst, pursuing a BFA in Dance and a minor in Education. Sophie is also a certified DEL (Dance Education Laboratory) Facilitator, a title that has brought her to DEL at Jacob’s Pillow, where she has assisted in training other educators in the DEL model. 

Words from Sophie: This past year teaching at The Center has been a blast. My most memorable moments have definitely been our adapted outdoor performances, such as the Spinning Yarns performance at Groff Park last spring, The Nutcracker flash mob, the Snow Dancer performance, and the Earth Day flash mob. It is so special to see dancers fully in their element, in the elements! This summer I will be working at The Center summer camps! I am so excited for the two new weeks The Center is offering, as well as the chance to work with dancers familiar and new.

Jai Fuller began her training at The Pioneer Valley Ballet under the direction of Gail Giere Collins. She attended summer programs at The Rock School of the Pennsylvania Ballet and The Boston Dance Company. Jai danced professionally with the Boston Dance Company from 1999 through 2001 where she danced leading roles in ballet classics and contemporary pieces. In 2002 Jai began studying West African dance under numerous masters in the field, such as Sekou Sylla and Youssouf Koumbassa. She traveled to Guinea and Senegal to further her training in 2004 and 2005. She has taught West African dance at Greenfield community college and Marlboro College, as well as many local community classes around the Pioneer Valley and in Brattleboro, VT. ai founded Khalsa Camp in 1999, a popular summer camp in the Pioneer Valley where she teaches children dance, yoga and other creative expression. She currently enjoys teaching local yoga classes and leading programs for children at yoga and music festivals, the Omega Institute and Kripalu. Her programs offer experiences in the arts and dance and are rooted in spirituality and yoga. This summer, she looks forward to adventuring in the forest, rivers and lakes with campers at Khalsa Camp where she co-directs fun outdoor experiences for kids. 

Words from JaiI love the creative space that I get to work in with the dance students at the Center Dance. It is always collaborative, curious, and fun. Watching the dancers build a strong connection to their bodies, and courageously express their individual creative light through their physicality is a fantastic experience that makes teaching dance a sheer joy!

Tiffany Joseph is a woman full of education, experience, gifts, and talents. She graduated from the University of Massachusetts Amherst with a Bachelor’s in Communications and a Masters in Social Justice Education. Presently, she facilitates community discussions and workshops around the Pioneer Valley surrounding different social justice issues including sexism, internalized racism, storytelling, financial aid, and elder abuse. She is a dancer, a writer, a poet, a spoken word artist, peer mentor, dance teacher, a Yoga instructor, and Zumba instructor. Tiffany has danced since the age of 3, studying ballet, contemporary, hip­ hop, jazz, lyrical, modern and tap, with Day Dance Center and with Joan Sherry Studio. She attended  Burncoat Senior High School, a performing arts school in Worcester, MA, where she began her career as a dance team member, traveling dance team ensemble member, choreographer, and co-facilitator of community dance teaching programs. During her college career she worked at the Woman of Color Leadership Network, where she then joined the group Body Politics, an award winning spoken word performance group, creating original productions by and about women of color, exploring a diverse number of topics ranging from body image, mental health, intimate relationships, family, and oppression. At The Center Dance, Tiffany teaches Hip Hop 1 & 2 and is a co-founder (and teacher!) of On Point/Demi-Point, a ballet program for BIPOC children. This summer, Tiffany will continue offering yoga classes at various locations through the Pioneer Valley. Visit Grounded by Yoga for more information. 


Carson Kelly has been dancing since she was in elementary school and has danced competitively with D.A.N.C.E. by Kristin since she was 14.  At DBK, Carson was not only a student but she also served as an assistant dance teacher and captain of the competition team.  Carson also studied briefly with Liane Fisher of Fisher Ballet Productions and had the opportunity to perform as Clara in their annual production of the Nutcracker Ballet.  Carson has attended the Gen IV summer intensive and most recently attended the Joffrey NYC Jazz & Contemporary summer intensive. Carson just finished her sophomore year at The University of Massachusetts Amherst, where she is pursuing degrees in Communications and Dance. Over the summer, she will be working as Curriculum Media Specialist with Transparent Language. 

Words from Carson: Teaching at The Center has been a truly rewarding experience. The kids are inspiring and eager to learn which is refreshing as a teacher. I love the positive attitude and motivation my dancers bring into the room. My dancers have reminded me that you can never be too old for freeze dance!!

Kate Martel (she/her) is a dance artist and Alexander Technique teacher based in Western Massachusetts. She has collaborated and performed in choreography by Laura Peterson, Barbie Diewald, Rebecca Brooks, Luis Lara Malvacias and Sarah White-Ayon, among others. She trained in the Alexander Technique with Ann Rodiger, graduating from the Balance Arts Center in 2017. Her choreography has been presented by SCDT (WIP), Women in Motion, Movement Research at Judson Church, and Purdue University. She has been on faculty at Mason Gross School of the Arts, Adelphi University, and Westfield State University. Kate earned a BA from Goucher College in Dance and Education (2002) and an MFA in Performing Arts from University of Wisconsin Milwaukee (2014). She is currently the Youth Program Director at School for Contemporary Dance and Thought (Northampton, MA). Kate has been teaching at The Center since 2017, where she teaches advanced choreography (Theme & Variation) and the ever-popular Book & Bar(re). This summer, Kate is looking forward to spending time outdoors with her husband and six-year-old daughter. She will also be heading to Lucca, Italy where she will be guiding and teaching at the Young Artists Intensive presented by Dance Italia and Open Arts Studio.

Words from Kate: The most memorable moment teaching at the Center this past year was the immersive dance performance we created in the meadow with the Theme and Variations class. We led the audience on a tour up a hill, past some swings, along the edge of the meadow, through some trees and onto the stage, watching the dance unfold the entire way.

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