Find out more about Ascension Dance's online youth sessions and weekly lockdown challenges

As part of our wide-ranging talent development work, Coventry-based Ascension Dance are one of our long-term partner companies at the Belgrade. Run by Ashley Jordan (AJ) and Ben Morley, Ascension Dance had been steadily expanding its youth dance offering in the lead-up to the lockdown, with participant numbers continually growing, and its newest group, Rise, having only been running since January.

But despite facing this massive disruption at such a critical time in their development as a company, Ben and AJ have been doing an amazing job of keeping up the momentum they had begun to build over the last few months, maintaining contact with their regular participants through Zoom, as well as delivering some really well-received weekly creative challenges.

For our second Saturday Shout Out this week, we spoke to AJ to find out more about their lockdown offering, and what they’ve learned so far.

“We actually only started doing our first youth sessions about a year ago. Previously we’d run a few one-off workshops during half-term, but people had really enjoyed them and encouraged us to make it more regular. We started with two groups called Apex and Vertex – both boys’ groups because that’s how me and Ben got into dance. Over the last few months those have grow from about 8 in one group and 3 in the other, to 12 in the older group and about 16 in the younger one.

“Later, people were asking us about girls’ sessions, so we first opened an older group called Saw, and then in January, we started a younger girls’ group called Rise. In total, before lockdown, we were working with about 34 young people every week, and that was growing as people got to know us better.

“After lockdown, we were able to take our workshops online pretty quickly. It’s taken a while for everyone to adjust to the new environment, because obviously our young people are all working to different schedules now, so I think initially we had about half the number of participants as before. But as people have started to get into their own rhythms, we’ve had more people dropping in and out when they can.”