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BATTLE: We Are One was created and performed by students in the Ascending Dance Company, set up at the University’s Creative Campus, Kingsway. The Company is made up of 15 second year BA Dance and BA Performing Arts students and one Master’s student from the Department of Performing Arts. Mentored by their Lecturer Dr Malaika Sarco-Thomas, the students have worked together to devise the BATTLE project, which incorporates street dance, contemporary, capoeira, contact improvisation, and ballet styles, together with an urban soundtrack to tell original stories of young people confronting challenge.

In addition to leading morning training sessions, workshops and performing, each company member had several roles from choreographers, rehearsal direction, costumes, publicity, lighting and technical crew, music co-ordination, school workshop leaders through to team leader and assistant director.

The group decided to take the project out ‘on the road’, performing the piece to school pupils at primary and secondary schools in North Wales and also giving workshops to the young people at Ysgol San Sior in Llandudno, Coleg Menai in Bangor, Ysgol Aberconwy in Conwy and Ysgol Llandrillo yn Rhos in Colwyn Bay, before a last show at the Creative Campus, Kingsway earlier this month.

Malaika said: “The hip-hop battle is a platform for expression, where breakers prove themselves against other breakers. BATTLE is a high energy dance performance about how we grow stronger when we dare to meet one another.

“Using our own experiences, dancers explored how borders are reinforced when we don’t the take the time to listen, shut out what we don’t know, and silence the unfamiliar—but the piece is also about how borders are eroded when people become curious about one another and engage in dialogue. By confronting one another in creative ways, including acrobatic tricks, partnering and improvising with music, we show how the hip hop battlefield is a healthy place to dialogue through movement.

“The tour was a great success and we received fantastic feedback from our audiences, showing that young people really enjoy dance. One teacher told me: ‘It’s so great to see their enthusiasm—after the performance the children couldn’t wait to get back in the hall for the workshop. And it is from children that I didn’t think would like this stuff, but they love it.”

“I’m really proud of all our University of Chester students, who worked so hard to create and perform such an inspiring piece.”

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