Now – having discovered her confidence through dance – the former student is returning to help develop Priestley’s contemporary dance company and inspire the next generation.
“I was quiet when I started at Priestley, but I really found myself during my time at college and I did so through my love of dance,” said the former Great Sankey High School pupil.
“Now it feels like everything has come full circle because I hope to show the students that it is possible to achieve your goals if you are dedicated to what you do.”
After securing an A* in her dance A-Level Ashleigh achieved a First in her BA Honours in Dance Performance at Middlesex University – one of the top places in the country to study the discipline.
During her time there she was taught, mentored or observed by people linked to some of the trailblazers of British contemporary dance including Robert Cohan, Martha Graham and Doris Humphrey.
Now Ashleigh, from Orford, is teaming up with her former A-Level dance tutor Rachel Leyland to bring those influences back to dancers at Priestley College.
They will be working together to help the current cohort and develop the college’s contemporary dance company, Oxygen.
“It will be such a great opportunity for our students to work with Ashleigh, not only because of the prestigious training she has received but as a former Priestley student herself she is also a role model,” said Rachel.
Since finishing university Ashleigh, who also studied Sociology, Religious Studies and English at Priestley, has been working as a freelance dance artist including a stint at Sarah Royle School of Dance in Warrington.
She also secured a graduate dancer audition for the international Phoenix Dance Company and is hoping to visit New York – the home of contemporary dance.
Before all that the 21-year-old is hoping to overcome some common misconceptions about dance – including that it is easy.
“It requires so much determination and there is a lot of blood, sweat and tears along the way. However, it is a small price to pay for the thrill of performance,” said Ashleigh.
“What I love about it is that contemporary dance is evolving and there are always barriers to break.”