Professional Company

ACE dance and music are recognised leaders in the field of Contemporary African and Caribbean Dance. We perform and tour extensively both in our home city of Birmingham, nationally and internationally. We place dance at the heart of everything we do and have evolved a signature style that is a fusion of African and Caribbean movement blended with contemporary technique, digital media and skills from other disciplines including theatre. The company also works regularly in collaboration with a family of international Artistic Associates and each year our reputation for producing compelling and high-quality work grows. In early 2019 we will be announcing both who will be in our professional company for our next tour in Autumn 2019 as well as our tour dates and details of our Skin -Reimagined Bill which will show the continuing evolution of this exciting company’s work. Watch this space for what promises to be a fantastic celebration of ACE dance and music’s 21st Anniversary year.

Iona Waite – Senior Company Dancer

Iona began her dance career attending classes at her local community centre at the age of only 9 years; a year later she joined the ACE Youth Company and has performed with ACE ever since. Following a dance foundation course at the Northern School of Contemporary Dance, she went on to achieve a BA Hons in Dance and Professional Practice at the University of Wolverhampton. In 2011 she was successfully awarded a grant from the BBC Performing Arts Fund to become a Dance Fellow (Apprentice) with ACE dance and music and on completion of her fellowship she became the company’s full-time Education Officer. She is responsible for delivering and developing a thriving outreach and class programme within the company.

Then, in 2015, Iona was awarded the BBC Performing Arts Legacy Grant to further develop her dance practice. She has trained with a number of prestigious companies including Josette Baiz- France, Alvin Ailey-New York, Zfin Malta Dance Ensemble and Flatfoot Dance Company-South Africa. She also took the opportunity to look at the training and progression routes of their young people so that good practice could be integrated into ACE’s education programme.

Iona is an integral member of ACE’s professional dance company and has been instrumental in the creation of their innovative work.

Christopher Radford – Senior Company Dancer

Christopher Radford is from Birmingham and started dancing as a member of ACE youth. He trained at Northern School of Contemporary Dance receiving a first-class honours. After graduating in 2014, he completed an apprenticeship with Scottish Dance Theatre, internationally touring works by choreographers such as Damien Jalet, Anton Lachky, and Fleur Darkin. Chris became a freelance artist in 2015; performing throughout the UK and overseas, with companies including: Scottish Dance Theatre, Heather Walrond Company, Corey Baker Dance and Rosie Kay Dance Company.

Recently, Chris has been creating his own work with partner Sara Macqueen, and performing at festivals including Birmingham Weekender, BIDF and Fest4all. He has also been forming a close relationship with Extended Play, being involved in research & video development, led by Jamaal Burkmar.

Christopher is currently in a full-time role with ACE dance and music as a Senior Company Dancer. He performs and tours with the professional company, while delivering and co-ordinating classes and workshops, both externally, and for ACE’s in-house education strand.

Bai Li Weigmans – Company Dancer

Bai Li was born in China and raised in the Netherlands. Dance has always been a central part of her life, since she started taking ballet classes back in China at the age of three years. She quickly discovered other dance styles and threw herself into mastering as many as she could. She started her formal dance education at the Fontys Dance Academy in Tilburg, Netherlands in 2015. She specialised in Contemporary Urban dance but received an all-round grounding in a number of different dance styles; from hip-hop to popping, house and afro to floorwork, and ballet to Limón and Graham techniques. Bai Li loves fusing her eclectic dance skills to create her own language. Dance enables her to discover her qualities as a dancer and as a person.

In the past Bai Li has worked with choreographers such as Tony Adigun, Blenard Azizaj, Ricardo Ambrózio, Samir Calixto to name but a few. She is keen to work with as many different choreographers as possible to explore their styles to inform her own. She feels that dance is about connecting and sharing with the people around her.

 

Rute Lopes – Company Dancer

Born and raised in Portugal, Rute began her dance training at a very young age. In 2012, she joined a youth dance company, Cia Jovem Project, where she had the opportunity to work with several choreographers such as Alia Kache from Alvin Ailey II and won several prizes in contemporary dance competitions. Whilst with the company she also had the opportunity to explore Integrative Dance, sharing, exploring and interpreting emotion with dancers with special needs. She continued her training at The Institute of the Arts -Barcelona, graduating in 2018 with 1st class BA Hons Dance Degree and was awarded Dance Student of the Year.

During her studies, she trained with Wayne McGregor, Eva Martz and Jasmin Vardimon Company, Albert Garell and Guido Sarli both former Batsheva dancers and Michael Bronczkowski. Attending different classes and workshops have been a major highlight throughout her dance training, from a week long intensive with Akram Khan in Amsterdam, to Flying Low with Marion Castaillet and Los Little Guys intensive workshops in Capoeira inspired contemporary dance and Gaga classes in Israel.

Mayowa Ogunnaike – Company Dancer

Born in London, Mayowa began engaging with contemporary dance through various youth companies including Laban Youth, Quicksilver and Chantry Dance Associates. She began her professional training at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance from where she graduated with a first class honours degree (2014-2017). During her studies she also completed the one-year Balletboyz Dancers Course programme (2014) where she worked with dance artists such as Kerry Nichols, Seke Chimutengwende and TJ Lowe.

After graduating she became an Apprentice Dancer with Phoenix Dance Theatre, performing and touring in the original cast of ‘Windrush: Movement of The People’ (2017-18). Following her apprenticeship, Mayowa became a freelance dance artist working for ACE dance and music and Uchenna Dance.