Q+A with Executive Director - Ashley Jordan...
Welcome back to the Ascension Blog!
Why start a blog? Because we feel it’s important to provide a more personal insight into Ascension Dance and the people behind the keyboard.
With social media, you often get a cleaner, sharper and business-like dialogue and well, appearances can be different from what is actually going on. Even if nobody reads this, we feel it is important to share this information as a point of reference to reflect and to answer some of the questions that we get asked frequently. With that being said, let's introduce you to our Executive Director Ashley Jordan...
First of all, what inspired you as a young person to pursue dance as a career before Ascension and why?
Ohhh, well I always had a very-active childhood. At the age of 5 or 6 I would climb trees, jump over rails and bounce off bollards. I had an itch to move. I remember waiting for my sister to finish dancing and I would watch her in short bursts, as the doors were swung open and closed again. I think it was inevitable that I would eventually join some sort of dance group
After years away from dance, (having chosen football instead) I found a joy for movement again after having a workshop at school. This workshop packaged dance differently, it was more physical and expressive. It was both competitive and supportive; it provided a foundation for friendships and achievement. I found myself craving the buzz that is achieved from being on stage and performing. It provided unique and memorable opportunities.
The penny dropped as I approached 17/18 that this was what I wanted to do.
Movement inspired me. The unique combination of qualities, fusing strength and fluidity, control and creativity. This interest in movement went further than just dance but included disciplines such as parkour, gymnastics and breakdance.
What's the story behind Ascension Dance? What conversations, inspirations and processes did you go through?
Without down playing creating a business, it all happened very quickly. We didn’t sit down for a long time and discuss the ins and outs of running a business (for those of you looking to start a business, this attitude towards it is not advised). Instead we had an idea for a dance film, applied for and obtained the funding and then thought it would be a great idea to start a company in which the work we deliver could sit in.
We had to quickly create a name and some branding. The physical nature of our work made us want a name that has some association with jumping. We wanted it to paint a picture of flight. We rallied with some names, Ascension being one of them and after a couple of weeks it was the one that felt the best. It sat nicely with both of us (Ben & I).
We had passion and a work ethic and that was it. We have learnt a lot on the job and developed a team that we felt supported our energy for creating work. It’s a collaborative and support environment but we also know when things need to get done.
How do you intend to continue to inspire male/male-identifying young people through the use of movement and why is it so important?
Ohh, great question. As a young person, finding a passion, something that you look forward to every week and puts a smile on your face is so important. Whether that’s sports, the arts or anything else, it’s crucial that you get to express yourself with other like-minded individuals.
For us, one of those ways of expression was through dance, but as opposed to activities such as football, it was hard to enjoy dance without being ridiculed or boxed in by some of the stigmas that have become associated with dance. Our reason for being so committed to providing opportunities for dance for young males is to smash such stigmas and to create a safe space for those young people who want to find and enjoy dance without any external pressures. We hope that overtime dance will be seen as gender neutral, neither feminine or masculine but rather just another form of expression for all.
We will continue to provide weekly boys dance workshops, free activities during the school holidays and partner with other organisations to create unique opportunities to experience movement disciples and performance.
In the form of a tweet, what would you say to all young people out there to encourage them to stay creative?
Push yourself to try new things and work outside your comfort zones, only then will you learn and develop. Nobody started out brilliant, it takes time and effort. It’s a marathon, not a sprint and you will be surprised at the amount of people cheering you on.