Cohesion Plus is delighted to announce that it will be working with Sharjah Performing Arts Academy (SPAA) in the new year as part of the UK-UAE Cultural Professionals Connect programme which is a grant programme funded by the FCDO and delivered in partnership with the British Council in UAE to foster international mobility, networking and creative exchanges through arts and culture. As part of the programme, Cohesion Plus will be taking a troupe of culturally diverse artists and performers to the UAE to work with some of SPAA’s performing arts students.

SPAA is a centre of excellence, and is the only dedicated performing arts academy in the Middle East. The academy focuses on training and educating students in performing and production arts to succeed in a competitive and ever evolving industry. Like Cohesion Plus, SPAA is a not-for-profit institution and welcomes collaborations with diverse artists and industry professionals from around the globe

The project will climax with a special performance of a new piece of work in Sharjah, UAE. The work will be jointly created by Gurvinder Sandher, Artistic Director of Cohesion Plus, and Alex Jessop, Dance Programme Leader at SPAA, and will focus on the themes of identity and belonging through drama and dance.

Cohesion Plus will also be producing a short film, which will simultaneously be released in the UK and the UAE to underline the strong cultural links between the two nations and the emerging partnership between Cohesion Plus and SPAA.

Gurvinder Sandher commented, “There are very close ties between the UK and the UAE. We are delighted to be representing the UK as part of this project and having the opportunity to work with the Sharjah Performing Arts Academy, a well-recognised and respected cultural institution in the Middle East.

For our element we want to showcase traditional, culturally diverse art forms, namely Bhangra dance and Dhol drumming which we have been teaching and performing since a very young age despite being born and bred in the UK. It will also be an opportunity for us to work with artists in the UAE and learn more about their artistic practices. Long-term I am hoping that we will be able to bring the UAE artists to the UK to perform as part of our outdoor summer festival programme.”

“Since launching our Dance Programme at SPAA in September 2021,” Alex Jessop stated, “I have been focused on exploring many diverse and exciting genres of dance. We represent a truly international cohort of dance students at our Academy, and the opportunity to discover and perform Bhangra with the expertise and guidance of Cohesion Plus is truly exciting. This builds on our mission to represent the beautiful diversity and extraordinary heritage of dance artists around the world. We welcome this important, cultural exchange with the UK, and we look forward to learning from these passionate and talented creatives as we enrich our students’ education and our professional practices.”