REVIEW: Ashley Banjo’s dazzling Diversity show connects with Birmingham audience
Ashley Banjo makes a triumphant return to Birmingham with a new Diversity Connected show to delight and thrill audiences at The Alexandra Theatre.
The new Diversity tour is big, loud and full of energy and it arrived in Birmingham tonight (14 April) to dazzle the audience.
It’s been over 10 years since Diversity shook up the nation when they won the third series of Britain’s Got Talent with a jaw-dropping performance. Over the past decade, thanks to the overwhelming support of their fans and the British public, they have continued to wow audiences around the world with their innovative and energetic live tours.
Creator, director and choreographer Ashley Banjo, said: “Every year that goes by, and every time we get to create a new touring show, I cannot believe we are still lucky enough to get to do this. But even after all this time, we are still growing, and this new decade and new chapter for Diversity is sure to be something even more special than the last. I truly do believe that we are all connected in mores ways than one.”
Diversity’s latest show – called Connected – is even bigger and brighter, and continues the legacy of Diversity. To take the talented street dance troupe into a new decade after the COVID-19 pandemic, Ashley Banjo has created a startling new show which centres around the world of social media, the internet, and the digital era, and how the impact of mobile technology has the power to connect the human race in unexpected and profound ways.
The global pandemic left families, communities, cities and nations isolated and full of fear. In the Connected show the audience is given a snapshot of how humanity was able to connect and stay positive through the medium of mobile technology. Ashley Banjo gave a poignant example of this during the Connected show when he shared a video of his new baby with his mother Danielle who was isolating during the lockdown period. Despite the physical separation between grandmother and her newborn grandson, there was a powerful spiritual and emotional connection when she saw the baby via mobile technology.
Banjo layers the show with positive aspects of how mobile technology has the power to connect and heal humanity during traumatic times by uniting people through the art of dance, music, comedy and creativity.
Although the family show is centred on the positive use of mobile technology Banjo also bravely tackles some of the disturbing issues plaguing humanity such as the cancer of racism. One of the most powerful dance segments in the Connected show deals with Banjo’s artistic dance response to the shocking police murder of George Floyd in the US.
The choreography in the Black Lives Matter section is sensitive, delicate, and the climax ends not in an eruption of violence or division but in tenderness, forgiveness, reconciliation, unity and love. Banjo underlines the message of peace and humanity.
In the theatre programme for the show Banjo highlights the words of Martin Luther King Jr: “Through our scientific and technological genius we’ve made of this world a neighbourhood. And now through our moral and ethical commitment we must make of it a brotherhood. We must all learn to live together as brothers – or we will all perish together as fools.”
The new show also highlights the importance of how mobile technology can be used as a force to usher in positive change for our ailing planet. The show employs spectacular cosmic imagery and lighting to convey the message that the people of this planet are one regardless of race, colour, or continent, and we each have the power to bring about positive change.
At the climax of one dance number the Diversity crew fired confetti into the audience in a moment of pure joy and exhilaration. The theatre erupted with delight as the little pieces of coloured paper cascaded over the audience like gently floating butterflies glittering in the lights radiating from the stage.
The dancing, lighting, and flow of the show thrilled and connected with the audience, and people young and old moved with the pulsating energy of the choreography wafting off the stage.
Diversity Connected tour is at The Alexandra, Birmingham, until Saturday 16th April, and from 13th-14th June