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Press Release ACE dance and music presents MANA ‘The Power Within’ A thought provoking and powerful double bill of dance directed by Gail Parmel Delving deep into the unknown, MANA will take you on a journey. Feel the hairs on your neck stand up and shivers run down your spine as you encounter the force which resides within all animate and inanimate objects, the stuff of which magic is made. Watch exceptional dancers express soul, energy and precision to a stunning backdrop of commissioned music and cutting-edge lighting design, with movement styles drawing from Afrofusion, Martial Arts techniques, the essence of Flamenco and Ballet. A THOUSAND SHEPHERDS (part of one double-bill) Spanish Choreographer JOSE AGUDO creates ‘A Thousand Shepherds’, an energetic celebration of discipline and dedication, inspired by spiritual traditions and ritual. MANA (part two of double-bill) South African choreographer VINCENT MANTSOE will take you back to ancient times, evoking the spirit and earthy ambience of African dance and Shaman traditions. The word MANA is used in over twenty-four languages, its interpretation unifies beliefs, cultures and ages. Feel alive with ACE dance and music! Suitable for age 7+// Running time: 1 hour approx. (plus interval) Trailer:

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Credits Directed by: Artistic Director Gail Parmel Music Director: Ian Parmel Mana Choreography: Vincent Mantsoe A Thousand Shepherds Chorography: Jose Agudo Dancers: Rudi Cole, Yukiko Masui, Sophia Preidel, Julia Robert, Iona Waite, Jerome Wilks Apprentices: Tiffany Bell, Shante Liburd Set Designer: Claire Whitcomb Lighting Designer: Gary Bowman Composer: Vincenzo Lagnagna Costume Maker: Le Minh Tran Photography: Brian Slater Design: Jose Agudo’s collaborators: Dramturge: Lou Cope Costume Designer: Kimie Nakano

Spring 2014 Tour Dates          

Tue 4th March, Solihull Arts Complex, 0121 706962, Fri 7th March, Wolverhampton Arena, 01902 321321, Fri 14th March, Number 8, Pershore, 01386 555488, Wed 19th March, Key Theatre, Peterborough, 01733 207239, Thurs 20th March, The Hat Factory, Luton, 01582 878100, Wed 26th March, Bristol Circomedia, Fri 28th March, Artrix, Bromsgrove, 01527 577330, Wed 9th April, The Courtyard, Hereford, 01432 340555, Fri 25th April, The Riley Theatre, Leeds, 0113 219 3018, Sat 17th May, Bijlmer Parktheater Amsterdam, +31 20 311 39 33

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Quotes “Full of emotion and expression… energetic and magical” – The Stage “Style and discipline… technical ability and sheer physicality” – Birmingham Post         

“Magical, mystical, hypnotic and moving… overall great. Really enjoyed the music and the incredible  lighting.”   “Very creative, a harmony of movement. Dramatic, dynamic and soul searching. The emotions were drawn  out in the dance.”  “Energetic, rhythmic…It was expertly executed...Beautiful monk like costumes. The combination of rhythm,  sound and rapid dance gave a tribal feel to the pieces. A very memorable and beautiful performance.”  “Strong, powerful, physically challenging, thought provoking, spiritualistic, passionately rhythmic….The  energy and passion inspired me.”  “It was a blast of pure energy…Beautiful choreography…The lighting, the dancers, the feel, the energy…very  brilliant. Both parts of the performance were wonderful, each had its own memorable moments.”  “Amazing, stunning and spectacular, particularly the earthy effects and the emotions the dancers exerted.”  “A great combination of movement, music and lighting. The best night of dance I have seen. A very talented  group of dancers.”  “Enthralling…I felt involved in the dancers struggle and highlights. Compelling in places and utterly beautiful  to watch…unique movements and a heartfelt relevant story.”   

About The Company Founded in 1996, ACE dance and music (African Cultural Exchange Ltd.) is a professional dance company based at The Link Dance Space in Birmingham. ACE skilfully combine African & Caribbean movement aesthetics with contemporary techniques to create high quality innovatie performance work. The Company’s work involves dance and music collaborations, the use of new digital media and techniques from other disciplines including theatre. ACE offer an extensive and inclusive outreach programme, working with theatres to offer tasters sessions and creative workshops to schools, colleges and the local community.

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Interview with Artistic Director Gail Parmel By West Midlands Dance Tell us a little bit about the inspiration behind Mana? Mana is that force that exists between us all but that we’re not really aware of as we go through our day-today existence – we can’t see it, but we feel it. It exists within both animate and inanimate objects. Ancient trees have mana for example. During the rehearsals process we imagined what these trees would say if they could speak, what they have seen during their time on earth? Other examples of things which have mana which we studied during the creation process are Gandhi, Stonehenge, Mecca and Nelson Mandela. Mana is the spirits which are around us, like dust, but perhaps you have to be awakened to it so you can feel their presence. During rehearsals we looked into different beliefs and questioned that which we believe to be real and true. Is there even such thing as mana? We also looked at how mana can be given and taken away: Mandela was given mana by the people of South Africa; Michael Jackson had mana but then it was taken away when all the stories about his personal life came out – his integrity came under fire. Tell us about the individual shows A Thousand Shepherds and Mana. A Thousand Shepherds is inspired by a pilgrimage that Jose has taken himself during his life. It is about when you make that decision to give up everything to take that journey, whether that be material, cultural or in a relationship. He comes from a catholic background, but went to study at a Buddhist monastery in India. The piece is about the journey rather than final destination and what you experience and do along the way: the preparation and prayer, the hype. It is a group journey that the dancers take together. Mana is about the arrival in a place of mana. Props are used to symbolise the relationship between the animate and inanimate, and for this piece we looked at objects and artworks that possess mana, for example the Chinese Terracotta Army. As they dance the dancers have mana – it exists within them, the space, and the objects. There is definitely more of a spiritual resonance in this second half. The show incorporates several very different styles – how did you go about selecting performers? We had a rigorous audition process which encompassed several R&D phases, during which we invited Vincent and Jose over to work with selected dancers so that both us and they could get an understanding of what we required. We chose dancers who can transfer their skills from contemporary to Afro-fusion, and who a have cultural sensitivity to different styles and approaches. We also had Vincent here for the final audition which we held back in May. How does the show compare to ACE’s previous work? Vincent has worked with the company for many years and was a choreographer on our previous show Skin, so there is a definite connection with this previous work. There is not as much digital technology and special effects in this show as in our recent works, but it is still visually compelling as a result of the amazing lighting and the pure dance. What can the audience expect from a night out watching Mana? Expect to moved and transported - we have been told from our preview at The Place last Saturday that our audience members feel deeply connected with what’s happening on stage. The show is a finely crafted and diverse mix of dance and music influences. Audience quotes from Saturday included: It was a blast of pure energy. Beautiful choreography, the lighting, the dancers, the feel, the energy…really brilliant. A spiritual journey, a union between the soul and spirit searching to connect.

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About Gail Parmel, Artistic Director Gail Parmel’s career as a dance artist has spanned two decades, including 16 years as a choreographer and creating 9 successful touring productions with ACE dance and music. As one of Britain’s hidden female talents, Gail combines captivating and energetic contemporary movement with African Caribbean dance forms, resulting in ACE dance and music being one of the most eclectic and resilient small scale dance companies in the UK. Gail’s grounding in dance has steered her towards a collaborative way of working using intercultural and interdisciplinary exploration with artists as diverse as Akiko Kitamura Japan, Vincent Mantsoe South Africa, Robert Moses San Fransico, Henry Daniel USA, José Agudo Spain, Douglas Thorpe UK and composers Andy Garbi UK, Hiroaki Yokoyama Japan and Vincenzo Lamagna Spain. Gail’s work challenges preconceptions and stimulates debate across the dance sector and has a resonance reflecting her belief in a creative process that is meaningful beyond the stage. Her work is re-positioning what it means to engage with contemporary dance with a cultural foothold in 21st century UK. Parmel is a champion for investment in the next generation of dancers and her cultural leadership contributes to opening up new pathways for a cohort of performers who might otherwise not have recognised their talent for dance. Dance = Desir is a growing part of this process, developing routes for international youth dance exchange and expanding networks for high quality youth dance, inspired by Gail’s creative leadership. In 2010 Gail was selected for the UK’s top 50 Women to Watch List (Cultural Leadership Programme) and in 2011 she was voted as one of 20 most Inspirational Women from the African diaspora in Europe in celebration of the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day. Blog about Artistic Director Gail Parmel:

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Ace dance and music mana press release