How do we stay connected in isolation?
It’s the question at the heart of In Touch, a moving new dance film created by Ascension Dance Company last year on commission from Coventry City of Culture Trust.
The loss, loneliness and seismic changes to our daily routines caused by the pandemic have taken their toll on most of us in recent months. But if there’s any place whose history and culture leaves it well-placed to bounce back from a crisis, it’s Coventry.
Released today, In Touch sees Ascension Dance co-founders Ashley Jordan and Ben Morley – together with three other dancers – hone in on moments of hope and joy that have emerged from lockdown, sourced from local residents of diverse ages and experiences.
The result is a quiet, contemplative ode to the city’s spirit of resilience, weaving together fluid choreography with everyday stories of finding light in darkness, which you can watch in full below.
“Our initial inspiration for the project was thinking about touch, and the loss of that during lockdown,” says Ashley Jordan. “Being unable to touch each other or even physically be in the same space as other people is something most of us have really struggled with over the last few months, so we wanted to find a way of bringing people together through movement, encouraging them to reconnect with their bodies.
“Originally it was conceived as a sort of time capsule – a way of reflecting on the weeks we’d spent in lockdown once we were back to something like normal. But as things have turned out, I think perhaps it’s even more poignant to be sharing something hopeful now that we’re into our third lockdown.
“We started out by gathering stories of connection from people in Coventry, some of which were written and some were in video form. At that point, we were still hoping that, by the time we came to create the piece around those stories, we might be able to begin meeting in-person.
“Of course that wasn’t possible, and as the restrictions dragged on, people became less and less comfortable with talking about how they were feeling about the situation, and more and more sick of Zoom calls, so we had to find creative ways of working."
The film packs its biggest emotional punch, however, when it makes explicit the connection between Coventry’s troubled past and present, when Blitz survivors remind us that tough times are part of what makes us who we are, and that no matter what our individual experiences might be, all of us “do have to be brave sometimes.”
“It’s been a difficult time for everybody, but I think the words of Margaret when she says that ‘Coventry will rise again’ really resonate with me. Coventry has constantly reinvented itself, and it's a city that has been united by overcoming adversity. I hope this video shows our shared strength as we approach the start of our year as City of Culture and helps us remember that it is the people of Coventry that make this a special place to live.
"Despite the challenges we’ve faced, we haven’t gone away, and we will come out of 2020 even more committed to doing everything we can to make 2021-2022 a historic year for our city.”