Mar 23 2012 Exlcusive by Rick Fulton
Dance troupe Diversity during one of their live shows
ASHLEY Banjo is having trouble sleeping. And it’s little wonder.
The 6ft 5in Diversity troupe leader may have broad shoulders but when everything depends on him, he has every reason to stay awake.
Next Thursday, Diversity’s third tour starts in Glasgow at SECC Hall 4 – capacity 9200. They claim the show is bigger and better and will fill arena venues up and down the country until well into April.
The moves choreographer Ashley comes up with will be worked on by the other 10 members of Diversity.
But if they don’t do the business, it all falls down to Ashley, 23.
He works himself hard, spurred on by the group’s motto ‘Dream, Believe, Achieve’.
As well as keeping Diversity going, he is a judge on Sky1’s Got To Dance and presented his own show Secret Street Crew.
He is also writing a film about their rise to fame and hopes to crack America.
Ashley said: “I’m having new ideas and haven’t slept for 30 hours.
“Sixty per cent of my job is sitting back with a pad and a pen, talking and conceptualising.
“The other 40 per cent is dancing.
“There’s a lot of pressure but it’s great. The new tour is a step up from the last one and we are on our way to stadium shows.
“I love that since we won Britain’s Got Talent we are masters of our own destinies. Right from the conception of the idea to making it happen, we are involved in every step. It’s all down to us, not a record label.
“It’s harder but we are in control of everything.”
It may have been a surprise in 2009 when Diversity beat Susan Boyle to the third Britain’s Got Talent crown but the dance troupe have more than shown they were worthy winners.
Ashley has helped kick-start a whole new generation of street dance fans.
Diversity had been invited to perform at all 50 of Michael Jackson’s This Is It shows at the 02 Arena in London before his death.
It didn’t happen but they are trying to touch the same number of people they would have if those gigs had gone ahead.
Ashley was studying physics and biology at Queen Mary, University of London when he entered Diversity into Britain’s Got Talent but it’s dance not science that he has been teaching since then.
“Nothing wrong with inspiring generation after generation,” he said.
There’s lots of juice left in Ashley but he knows dancers don’t last as long as other professional sportsman.
The group includes two teenagers, with the big-haired Perri Luc Kiely being thrown around by the others.
Surely there will come a day when they can’t?
Ashley has thought of all this and said: “When Perri gets older we won’t replace him because our style is throwing him.
“It’s the moves we have invented and not many other people can do because of our size ratio difference.
“When he gets bigger, I get a little bit stronger and it balances out.”
Ashley trains at least three times a week, as well as the dancing and he admitted it is tiring but he is still fit and ready for the 12-city tour, including London’s 02 Arena.
It follows on from their 27-date sold-out tour in 2010 to 60,000 fans and their 17-date sold-out Christmas tour the same year, which included four arenas and performances in front of 60,000 fans.
The new show is called Digitized – Trapped In The Game that will name-check films such as Jumanji and will be bigger than anything they’ve done.
And it won’t stop there. Diversity starred in the 3D film Street Dance two years ago and are taking acting lessons for a biopic film of their life.
Again Ashley will be writing it.
He’s a busy man and admitted he’s not bumped into Susan Boyle after Diversity beat her on BGT.
He said: “I think she was shocked because I remember how shocked I was.
“But hopefully we’ve shown we deserved to win.
“We are unique, different and are always striving to push the boundaries with the dancing.