Like many productions, this new dance show by Britain’s Got Talent winners Diversity has been delayed due to you know what. So some fans in the audience had booked to see this dynamic dance troupe two years ago.
You can sense the excitement as you take your seats.
Master of ceremonies, director and choreographer Ashley Banjo takes you on a journey of what connects and disconnects us when it comes to new technology.
As he was devising this show and getting it ready, none of us realised that we would be using this tech in place of face to face contact because of lockdown and restrictions.
Banjo does not shy away from this and it is covered here via a Zoom call to his mum, when he shows her his new baby boy, Micah. It is a moving video clip, as it reminds us all exactly what we lost in those times.
But at the same time, where would we have been without our phones? We were able to order food from our favourite restaurants, attend quizzes with family and friends and download yet another TV series to get through the difficult months ahead.
The show covers both pros and cons.
The concept is designed to inform and educate alongside the dance segments and also fill time whilst dancers exit and get changed and return with a new routine. The problem is that the information you are receiving is not deep or new and it is a bit repetitious.
You keep hearing about connection, and then you see Diversity dance and you know exactly what they are talking about.
From a Charlie Chaplin routine which takes you back, to a group number featuring Ashley Banjo and drones flying above him, through to their brilliant Black Lives Matter segment which caused controversy on Britain’s Got Talent, there is incredible variety on stage here in this ambitious and earnest, yet dazzling production.
The BLM section is one of the most incredible three minutes of dance I have seen in years, as it stirs you, makes you angry and desperate for change.
Each dancer is committed and every move is performed as an act of defiance but also love for their craft and for equality and, yep… diversity.
It is stunning to see this on stage and the audience rose to their feet on the night I attended. I found it incredibly moving and could watch this on repeat.
In a celebration of You Tube, the troupe moonwalk across the stage in tribute to the music of Michael Jackson, and your jaw hits the floor. I almost turned to my companion and said: “Annie, are you ok?”. The sheer variety of dance on display here is incredible.
The video screens and enhanced cinema sound means that there is a great deal to take in, and at times you long for tender moments when dance can portray the language of love.
And there is a beautiful sequence where dancers are paired off, dancing with their mobiles on and their texts are seen on screen. This is incredibly poignant, as it highlights how we lost that ability to live in the moment.
Climate change is also covered, and you do start to feel a bit bombarded as there is so much material here it could be covered in many shows as opposed to just one night.
Each dancer has their own marvellous moment in this show and it does take solid team work to bring a show like this to the stage.
Perri Kiely still has that fearlessness he had when he was a child performing in the BGT auditions. Jordan Banjo provides comic relief, interacting with the audience and conveying his self-deprecating wit.
Every single one of the dance troupe deserves kudos, as they perform with passion, energy, grit and determination. Their moves are slick but they also engage with the audience and bring them into the narrative.
Sometimes dance can look beautiful but there is a gulf between the performer and the audience.
Here Diversity achieve what Ashley Banjo has set out to do: they connect.
Diversity: Connected is at the Opera House until 7th May. You can book tickets here.