TEN: Behind The Scenes of ACE dance and music’s New Production for 2016

Following on from the success of our sell-out UK tour of MANA in 2015, ACE dance and music have returned to the studio to start work on a brand new production for 2016. 

The production is called TEN, in celebration of it being our tenth dance production, which is a milestone for ACE dance and music, especially as we will be entering into our 21st anniversary year.

We continue our relationship with Choreographer Jose Agudo and some of the other stellar creative team behind A THOUSAND SHEPHERDS, which was part of the MANA repertoire.

With Jose bringing his flamenco roots together with ACE dance and music’s signature Afro-fusion style, it will be exciting to see how both elements will connect to create an exhilarating experience for audiences across the UK.

“There’s a strong link between Flamenco dance and historical Northern Africa. The movements and music originated there before migrating to Spain, and it’s really interesting to see how we can connect those elements together and create something unique for audiences across the UK.

Work on the production began back in December 2015, when we completed our first week of studio based research with Jose and the dancers, who together began to look at concepts and ideas for TEN.



Jose Agudo during Research and Development week at ACE dance and music

Jose said: “I am interested in exploring the concepts of moving away and leaving, of surviving in a land without a place to go. Of looking at how and why people choose previously unimagined destinies over the lives they’d always thought they’d live… and how power can reflect the fragility of the human being.”

Iona Waite, ACE dance and music’s Education Officer and Company Dancer, took part in the Research and Development week and had the opportunity to contribute her own ideas for TEN. Read Iona’s account of the exciting week working with Jose…

“It was a really interesting and busy week as we had 12 dancers from Zfin Dance Ensemble join us from Malta for a residency. Along with our dancers, there were 24 dancers working together and sharing ideas, creating a real energy in the studio. The Zfin dancers brought a different energy and flair, which helped with our creativity and ideas for TEN.

“We have a strong relationship with Zfin, who are the only Government funded dance company in Malta, as our Director’s, Gail and Ian, had previously visited the company.

“It was an intense, full-on week as Jose likes to work us hard! We also had classes given by Mavin Khoio, the Creative Director of Zfin. Both are contemporary choreographers with different outlooks.

“Throughout the week we learned new material for TEN and it was good to be dancing again! We were encouraged by Jose to think about how we feel when think of the words ‘struggle’, ‘brotherhood’, ‘exile’, ‘promises’, ‘strength’, ‘migration’, ‘land’, and ‘leaving.’



Iona and ACE dancers exploring their ideas for TEN

“There were some good, lively debates among the dancers when Jose got us all thinking about what ‘home’ means to us. For me it was not the four walls of a house, it’s more of a feeling you get when you’re in a place of comfort.

“We were also given a creative task based on the word ‘hell’. Each dancer had to create a solo performance that conveyed the word ‘hell’. 99 percent of the dancers chose to represent what it was like to be in hell whilst two of the dancers demonstrated a juxtaposition.

“The strongest themes that came through from the week of research and development were ‘migration’ and ‘unity’. At the end of the week, we performed the new material for an audience and got some useful feedback.

“It was a great experience to work with Zfin Dance and they were blown away by ACE Youth, who they had an opportunity to teach. It left the company inspired to have a youth company of their own.

“I will be going to visit the company in Malta to continue our strong relationship, where I’m sure I will learn a lot.

“I’m looking forward to the next Research and Development week in April to see how the ideas will progress.”


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