Review: DIVERSITY: SUPERNOVA, De Montfort Hall, Leicester

A dazzling production from the much-loved street dance group

By: Apr. 17, 2024
Review: DIVERSITY: SUPERNOVA, De Montfort Hall, Leicester
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Review: DIVERSITY: SUPERNOVA, De Montfort Hall, Leicester It's hard to imagine what more an audience could possibly want from a dance show than what Diversity provide in their current tour Supernova. There are stunning, tightly choreographed dance routines, impressive production values, up-to-the-minute technology, music loud enough to reverberate through your spine, and heavy doses of both humour and earnestness. Oh, and it rains on stage. This is bold, flashy entertainment underpinned by incredible talent.

The street dance group Diversity first captured the nation's hearts in 2009 when they won Britain's Got Talent, and many of the original members remain, bolstered by several new ones. This isn't their first national tour (unbelievably, it’s their 12th!), but it is their most ambitious. Written, directed and choreographed by founding member Ashley Banjo, Supernova is a theatrical experience grounded in narrative.

That narrative is based around Ashley Banjo's main character, a troubled musician who once dreamed of exploring the stars. After a horrific car accident, he finds himself in a coma, and begins to relive old memories, face his fears and try to find his way back to the real world. Banjo is endlessly likeable in the role, and easy to empathise with. He tells his story not only through dance but also through spoken word poetry, and is assisted by Dujon ‘Scoop’ Thomson, a battle rapper and spoken word artist whose narration provides grounding for the more abstract scenes.

The narrative conceit allows a whole host of dance routines that differ in tone, from a nostalgic ode to music from decades past, to a battle with nightmarish apparitions representing repressed fears. Each routine is exceptionally performed, with the whole troupe perfectly in sync and the moves flowing as easily as water. We get to experience Diversity's signature mix of street dance, hip hop, popping and acrobatics, as well as a beautiful contemporary duet between the main character and his girlfriend. 

While the show’s subject is a serious one, there are plenty of laughs and lightheartedness throughout, not least in a routine which revisits a childhood toybox, complete with dancing Power Rangers and much-loved Diversity members Jordan Banjo and Perri Kiely dressed as Pokemon characters. Jordan and Perri also join Ashley for a sweet (and darkly humorous) dance-free bedside vigil scene where we get to feel their connection and their worry for their friend.

Supernova’s storyline is much enhanced by the impressive staging. Peter Barnes’ double-level set and punchy lighting design takes us inside the main character’s mind, and the sliding doors leading to different memories are particularly effective, with the red door of fear always looming. Short films produced by Josh Kinsella featuring younger versions of the main character add useful context and tie the show together well. One of the most impressive aspects of the production is the video projection by Antoine Marc, who gives us galaxies of stars projected on transparent screens that allow the dancers to appear as though they are inside the videos.

This is a show not only for lovers of dance, but for anyone who enjoys theatre. Supernova champions the values of hope, love, imagination and overcoming your fears, but never remains too serious for too long. It's relentlessly entertaining and warm-hearted, and shows exactly why Diversity remain the nation's premier street dance group. There's not long left to catch this tour, but whatever Diversity do next, it's sure to be worth watching.

Diversity: Supernova at De Montfort Hall, Leicester on 16 April, then touring until 18 April


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