Shoot Festival

A diverse new festival which platforms the best of Coventry and Warwickshire's up and coming talent

The Rise of Ascension Dance Company

Ascension Dance Company tell us what they’ve been up to recently …

Ascension Dance Co
Without Shoot Festival I don’t think Ascension Dance Company would exist.

Before, we were Ascension Dance Company, Shoot Festival gave directors, Ben and Ashley (AJ) the chance to produce and showcase work. They offered us a platform to explore our creativity, providing the support to find our voice as artists.

This opportunity fuelled a creative bug and enabled a shift in mentality that made us realise that ‘we can’ create work, and not only that, but the work we create is of a professional standard. Shoot provided feedback on our work and allowed us to produce and market our performances.

As graduate performers and artists more used to performing for established dance companies and arts organisations, this opportunity to self-promote was priceless. It gave us an insight into the work required behind the scenes to produce your own show.

‘Beat’, originally created under the guise, Kinfolk Collective, was a solo interpretation of a previously performed work produced by Shoot and reworked by Ben Morley.

We were commissioned by Shoot Festival in 2017 and ‘Beat’ became part of their 2017 Triple Bill (now called In Bloom), which encouraged us to continue to create work which is longer in duration and of a higher standard.

With a script written by Mark Worth (Highly Sprung Performance Co), Ben’s initial stimulus looked at the effect of music and how different genres could inspire people to move differently. Mark’s script gave this piece a narrative that helped tie the dance elements together. Debuted at Shoot Festival 2017, ‘Beat’ included headphones, spoken text and touched on the theme of love.

Having the opportunity to showcase ‘Beat’ and receive feedback enabled us to go on and further develop this work. Under the arc of Ascension Dance Company, we were able to take ‘Beat’ back into the studio to refine the piece. In the 18 months since debuting ‘Beat’ at Shoot Festival, we have toured the work to six other venues across the UK and are currently looking for more platforms.

What next?

We are currently developing our second piece of work that looks at masculinity in society. This work has already been commissioned by Serendipity for Let’s Dance International Frontiers festival 2019 and will be performed at the Curve Theatre in May 2019.

It’s been a patient and supportive journey for me, Ben and Ascension Dance and Shoot Festival offered us a springboard to start developing work and we could never have predicted the journey that would take us on.

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What are you waiting for?

If you are one of those people thinking about applying for Shoot Festival, stop thinking and send in your application. Whether you are an actor, dancer or musician, this could be the opportunity to develop an idea that you have been sitting on, and that idea with Shoot’s support could be the start of your creative journey. Shoot has helped so many CV based artists to understand their potential, so let Shoot Festival shine a spotlight on another CV talent….

GLOW - Letters From The Front Story

Triple Bill - Letters from The Front

As rehearsals for the Triple Bill are well under way, I managed to grab some time with Gloria Lowe to talk more about their local love story Letters from The Front.

Could you tell me a little bit about Letters from The Front? 
Letters from the Front is the amazing story of Edith Ainscow and Geoffrey Boothby – a real couple who were based in Birmingham and lived during the First World War. Edith and Geoffrey had spent a total of four incomplete days with each other before Geoffrey left for training in Dorset, and then to the Front. Geoffrey was part of the Royal Engineer Tunnellers and was involved in the subterranean struggle below the Ypres Salient. Over 18 months the couple’s relationship blossomed through only written correspondence and as their letters passed to and fro, they fell in love.

When we first came across this story two years ago in a book called: ‘Thirty-odd feet below Belgium, An Affair of Letters from the Great War 1915- 1916’ edited by Arthur Stockwin, we were very moved to discover the story of two really remarkable people who lived so close to home. It was even more remarkable to be able to read actual letters written by someone working in these conditions (not many accounts exist of those that worked in the tunnels during the war). But most remarkable of all, was their actual story – one that we felt ought to be shared.

Why is it important to tell local stories? 
Telling local stories that may not be part of a mainstream historical narrative is vital to preserving and understanding our own heritage and to bringing communities closer together. Importantly, local stories can often reveal something to us about human nature. As we hear about the lives of everyday people who may have lived just a stone’s throw away from us, we are struck by our fundamental and shared humanity.

Letters from the Front is predominantly made of the real words written by Edith and Geoffrey. In it we hear about the soldiers marching up and down ‘New Street’, about Edith’s Medical studies at the ‘University of Birmingham’ and about Geoffrey trying to get to ‘Brum’ for leave. In this story, the West Midlands is home, a vibrant place to study, party and go to the theatre, a place in which people meet and fall in love.

What do you hope the audience will get from watching Letters from The Front? 
Letters from the Front is a sharing of the true story of two remarkable people. It is almost impossible not to be moved by it. Indeed the story seems to strike a chord with anyone that comes into contact with it. It is both romance and tragedy, personal and universal, exhilarating and truly poignant.

Despite the circumstances in which they find themselves, Edith and Geoff’s letters are full of light and life. They tease and joke with each other, they write about shows they have seen, articles they have read and music they have been listening to. As the audience hear the real words of Edith and Geoff, we hope to show them that love, joy and sadness are as real in 1916 as they are today, and as they will be tomorrow and hope that through both traditional and digital storytelling, we can really do this story justice.

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What is at the heart of Letters from The Front – and why should people get along to see it?
This is a local love story with humanity at its heart.

Glow was founded by Gloria and Francis Lowe, who together merge traditional storytelling with digital media to create performances they hope will offer audiences a new and exciting experience. Gloria has toured in productions for different audiences and age groups throughout the UK as well as working in education, developing and delivering arts workshops & projects internationally. Francis is the Course Director for the BA Illustration and Animation at Coventry University and has a background of working in animation for Children’s TV, including CITV’s ‘Grizzly Tales for Gruesome Kids’.

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