Richmond, VA 23235
LaShaunda Craddock (Mama Ayo) has been a lover of dance, theater, and the cultural arts since early elementary school. Although her dance background instruction includes ballet, tap, and modern dance, her passion has always been deeply rooted in African dance, culture, and tradition. LaShaunda began her African dance studies, in the early 1980s with Larocque Bey School of dance in Harlem, New York. After moving to Virginia, she later became one of the principal dancers of Ezibu Muntu African Dance and Cultural Foundation. In 2005, LaShaunda began integrating her love of the culture with her passion for teaching when she began designing interdisciplinary programming based on history and culture that could be shared with students of all ages. Since then, LaShaunda has led numerous workshops in various schools and community centers throughout the state of Virginia. In addition to being on the artist roster, LaShaunda is a current resident artist with Richmond Performance Alliance. She is also the Intro to West African Dance professor at Virginia Commonwealth University and serves as the executive director for Yemojas Gift. Additionally, she is the artistic director of Isokan performance company as well as several other student groups across the city.
Highly skilled and qualified, Lashaunda has a Bachelor's Degree in English, a minor in African American studies as well as a Master's degree in Interdisciplinary Studies. She is also K-12 certified and pursuing her Post Graduate Certification in Educational Leadership. Her professional portfolio includes doing dance choreography for Jarrard Anthony's Lucky Day video, University of Richmond's 2013 production of Threshold, being featured in Dogtown Dance Theater's 2015 Richmond Dance Festival and serving as a choreographer for Midlothian Middle School’s 2015 Spring production of the Lion King Junior. Within the last few years, LaShaunda has also produced four full media productions: Voices from the River, Art is Life, Lessons from our Mother, and Rooted Awakenings. Her teaching style is deeply rooted in the Zimbabwe (Shona) proverb that states “If you walk, you can dance. If you can talk, you can sing. “
Virginia Commonwealth University, December 2009, Graduate Degree for Teaching Certification,
Virginia Commonwealth University, December 2014, Masters in Interdisciplinary Studies
Virginia Commonwealth University, December 2019, Ph.D., Curriculum, Culture, Change
Warriors, Healers and Builders Retreat, October 2014
Timbuk Fitness Certification, March 2014
Kankouran Conference, August 2014
Suah African Dance Workshop, July 2014
Coyoba Master Dance Class Workshop, March 2014
Manga African Dance Work, July 2013
Afriky Lolo Dance Workshops, August 2011 to August 2013
Dance Africa, D.C. conference, August 2002 to August 2011
Ezibu Muntu African Dance Company, January 1998 to December 2011
Virginia Commonwealth University Dance Department, September 1996 to May 2000
$150 PER HOUR/ CLASSROOM RESIDENCIES
$200-350 LECTURE DEMONSTRATION/ SCHOOL WIDE WORKSHOPS
$350-500 SCHOOL PERFORMANCES/ RESIDENCIES
Fees are negotiable. Travel and accommodation may require additional cost.
K-12, University, Continuing Education, Adult, Alternative Schools, Juvenile Detention Centers
My approach to teaching any subject is that nothing exists on its own. Everything functions in relation to something else. Cultural Arts is English, Math, Science, Biology, and History. All art forms are a function communication. It is life. My program sessions are designed to be interdisciplinary so that the students are able to see how movement, rhythm and voice is connected to everything. Nothing, whether its art, academic or life exists on its own. Through dance, song, music and spoken word, students will have a chance to explore the worlds that exist within as well as outside of themselves.