Cultural Exchange back in the mix

Did you know that the ‘ACE’ in ACE dance and music is an abbreviation of ‘African Cultural Exchange?’  The last year has definitely seen this part of what we do slide back into the spotlight.

Not only have we held research and development residencies with Japanese and South African Choreographers, ACE Youth have also taken part in a unique cultural exchange with Dutch company Untold.  In Oct 2010 we spent a week in Amsterdam and in Feb 2011 our new friends came to stay with us  to complete another week of creative exploration leading up to a performance at mac last Saturday 26th Jan.

Funded by Youth In Action, this project encouraged the group to learn more about their common European identity and shared Caribbean heritage, increasing understanding and raising aspirations, and it’s certainly done this, and much more.

We love performing at mac and this Saturday was no exception.  After an intense week of rehearsals, radio interviews and preview performances in mac’s foyer – and a whole load of fun, the young people  performed with great poise and focus and more importantly you could literally feel the energy and passion resonating from the stage!  Feedback from audience members communicated that this was an enlightening experience all-round and mac were happy to see many new faces that hadn’t visited their venue before.

ACE Artistic Director Gail Parmel talks about the project:

“We learnt that both our groups are so alike, there are subtle differences in how we live but as the young people came together and worked with each other I started seeing the respect  grow, they helped each other learn new skills and supported each other’s development . I believe this has forged a long lasting relationship with longer term effects, it’s not just about the dance or the music, it has been a genuine life-moulding experience.  ACE youth learnt a lot about the Surinamese influence of Untold’s work and Untold gained a sense of discipline and learnt that warm ups, rehearsals and stretching are an essential part of putting on a performance. The moment that shone the most was definitely the collaborative piece, you could see the influences of both groups but the outcome was a whole new style, with the movement inspired in response to a visit to Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery. It was a successful Fusion, self-named ‘ACEtold’.”

mac‘s Artistic Director Dorothy Wilson talks about the performance:

“This show was a delight – a really powerful mix of two young companies showing passion and enthusiasm for dance and for communicating wholeheartedly with an audience. The response of a capacity house was terrific – respect for such achievements, enjoyment of the creativity of the young artists on stage, and a feeling of witnessing something quite special; all ingredients for  a memorable evening. I’m so pleased mac was able to play a part in helping this to happen. We look forward to hosting more of both companies work”

And here’s what the audience made of it all:

“Enlightening, very energetic and diverse”

“A wonderful, inspiring collaboration between two highly committed and youthful companies”

“I love the rhythm of our culture naturally expressed in this way, loved the drumming. I was moved to tears with pride, I have loved it, loved it, loved it!  All the hard work paid off, you have a new fan!”

“A great spirit, made me want to join in!”

Watch footage from this exchange