ASHE set to soar

BY RICHARD JOHNSON Observer senior reporter

Thursday, April 05, 2012

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THE Ashe ensemble is currently in rehearsals, preparing for a return to the entertainment scene.

The 19-year-old song-and-dance troupe was a hit during the 1990s, not only providing entertainment but bringing matters normally considered taboo to the fore.

It was one of these taboo subjects, homosexuality, which rocked the troupe back in 2000.

An Ashe-produced manual dealing with HIV/AIDs was pulled from schools due to its sexual content, particularly homosexuality.

This led to a discontinuation of the programme, which was considered a mainstay of the group.

Ashe was later rocked by the sudden death of its founder and artistic director Joseph Robinson in 2005.

The issue of a base for the group soon became another pressing matter. Having called the east Kingston community of Nannyville home for a number of years, Ashe was left searching for a permanent space and later took up residence along Waterloo Road in St Andrew. But this was short-lived.

Since 2006, Ashe has been without a permanent home base, leading to what executive artistic director Conroy Wilson calls, "a lack of stability and visibility."

However Wilson, who has been with the company since its inception in 1993, hopes they will return to their glory days, having recently acquired offices and rehearsal space on Cargill Avenue.

He told Splash that the work done by Ashe in the early years has never died.

"We are still working with communities and assisting young people all over the island through 'edutainment'," he said. "The company has also performed on a number of major shows, the finals of Digicel Rising Stars last summer and have also continued our reach to territories in the Eastern Caribbean. Last summer, we also revived our Ashe Summer School, and that was extremely positive," Wilson added.

So where does Ashe go from here?

Wilson is upbeat about a season of performances later this year.

"We did our last season two years ago, skipped last year and we are coming back this year with something different. We are partnering with Dance Theatre Xaymaca and so the shows should be very interesting," he said.




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