Ashley Banjo has created a new show, ‘Connected’, which centres around the world of social media, the internet, and the digital era we now live in, but more importantly how this connects us all and what a joy it what’s to see it after a being delayed last year. I was gifted a press ticket to attend and see just in what way we are connected.
This was a show of two halves. As it’s name and the description suggests this is a journey and story of how we are all connected through the internet and our phones.
Touching on various mediums people use, we travel through an introduction to phones, virtual reality (which also brought a little bit of actual magic on stage), YouTube, Michael Jackson, actual rain on stage, wonderful dance routines and a little bit of rapping which made for an amazing first half. Renowned for their choreography and tightness it was fabulous seeing it live and in person.
The second half brought some fun, and what else would you expect when you let kids manage the creative elements. We then delved into the cloud and audience interaction where Diversity connected the audience to the show, thanks to some looping and one randomly picked member of the audience lending her vocals to the now uploaded soundtrack singing ‘Drop that bass!’ You can listen to it at https://m.soundcloud.com/diversity-connected
We all know phones cause distraction and social media causes expectation and Ashley is superb at conveying this through the dance routines on display.
We also see the negative of social media. No more demonstrated than after their Black Lives Matter performance for which members of the band were trolled and threatened. This was a truly poignant moment in the show and showed how powerful the internet could be.
Banjo ended show by saying ‘’we have the power to change and the power to be changed, because we are all connected’’. With the internet and social media in particular we are reminded of the power it has for both positive and negative connotations.
The first half was impressive on purely a dance level. By the end of this show I just felt that this was just powerful. The quality of dance was immense, but to be able to convey the message he did, through dance, video messages, and on stage commentary was seriously impressive. I particularly enjoyed a routine near the end with drones. This was more than just a dance show, this was emotive and a reminder of the world we live in today.
Just to say also – we all know Ashley Banjo, his brother Jordan from being familiar faces on tv, also Perri Kiely who some may still remember as the little kid doing all the jumps or flips. Diversity are a group, and once they hit the stage it wasn’t about Ashley, Jordan or Peri individually – this group are connected. Every single man and woman was great, on point, strong, and brought it to the stage.
The Sage Gateshead was also intimate enough for this show and the staging on offer. The audience were in buoyant mood and clapped, and interacted with s good energy which added to an enjoyable atmosphere.