Our new, two-year talent development programme will support some of the region's most exciting up-and-coming artists

This week, we’re delighted to introduce Ascension Dance Company as the first to benefit from our new “Supported By” talent development programme.

As our first Supported Company, the Coventry-based contemporary dance group will enjoy access to rehearsal and performance space at the Belgrade as well as marketing and publicity support from our teams over a two-year period.

Launched to help the region’s most exciting up-and-coming performing artists take the next step in their career, the new scheme will sit alongside our existing Springboard programme, which currently provides tailored support to five emerging companies – Underground Lights Community Theatre, Maokwo, Richard and Rishard, Gertrude and Radical Body.

Led by Ashley Jordan and Ben Morley, Ascension Dance has developed its own distinctive style of contemporary dance fused with elements of breakdance and parkour, which it employs in a variety of exciting live performances as well as several youth and community projects.

Its performances are focused on human interactions and relationships, using raw physicality and high velocity encounters to explore what it means to connect to the people and places around us.

Through a range of participatory projects including regular schools workshops and four dedicated Ascension Youth groups, it aims to inspire young people to use dance as a vessel for creative expression, and to better the community by providing opportunities for shared learning and connecting with others.

Belgrade Theatre General Manager Vera Ding said: “We’re delighted to be supporting this dynamic young company as it begins to build up a profile in the city. We have a long history of working with Ben and Ashley as individual performers, both as young people and more recently in projects such as our Shoot Festival showcase and our site-specific show Read All About It!

“Throughout lockdown, they’ve continued to impress us with their creative responses to the most challenging of circumstances, including their online youth sessions and weekly Create It, Share It challenges, which we were proud to support.

“With their joint focus on creating high quality professional work and participatory programmes, they’re a natural fit for our ethos at the Belgrade and we can’t wait to develop our current relationship with them further.”

Ascension Dance Company Co-Director Ashley Jordan said: “The Belgrade has long played a central role in nurturing the city’s emerging talent, through its work with children and young people and in its support of artists at the beginning of their careers.

“Both as young people ourselves and later in our professional adult careers, Ben and I have performed at the Belgrade on many occasions, always full of nerves and brimming with excitement about a piece of work we’ve been rehearsing for weeks. Every time, we have felt thoroughly supported by the staff and by the fantastic audiences who have come out to see us.

“Now, as directors of our own company, we’re proud to continue to build our relationship with the Belgrade as we take our first steps as part of Coventry’s thriving artistic landscape, and we look forward to their guidance in creating new opportunities and artistic experiences for people from all walks of life.”