For this week’s column I want to take a pause from the big issues of Covid and Brexit to salute one of the town’s quiet success stories.
If you enter the Designer Outlet two of the first units you pass on the left are occupied by the Jasmin Vardimon contemporary dance company. These are temporary quarters, while building has started on the new permanent buildings the company will occupy on the Henwood estate.
It still seems extraordinary to me to talk about a world-class arts company basing itself in Ashford, and it feels a long time since we started planning this in 2012. Even before the full HQ is finished the presence of Jasmin Vardimon in the Designer Outlet gives them more visibility, and the chance to run classes, both online and in person, that the people of Ashford can take part in.
Most excitingly I could take a look last week at the students taking their Development Diploma. These are 15 young people from around the world, and I hope some of them will be the stars of tomorrow’s dance world. It is a completely international class, but local input is important, and one of the students is from New Romney, helped by a generous bursary from McArthur Glen.
Dance companies are of course among those whose daily activities are most affected by Covid, so great ingenuity has been required to allow Jasmin Vardimon to provide Pilates and other classes. Details are now available on their website of their classes.
Above all give them a wave the next time you are wandering around the Designer Outlet. It is great to have them in Ashford, and the opening of a new dance centre in the Town, when it finally happens, will be an inspiring event.