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Britain's Got Talent dance troupe Diversity talk ahead of Birmingham show

Birmingham | Entertainment | Published:

There have been six sell-out UK tours and 300,000 tickets sold. There have been countless TV appearances and numerous other accomplishments.

Diversity have lived the dream since winning the third series of Britain's Got Talent in 2009 – beating runner-up Susan Boyle in the live final. And they're back on the road with a new show, Genesis, that headlines Birmingham's Barclaycard Arena tomorrow afternoon and evening.

Genesis is the concluding part of their super hero fantasy epic and follows Limitless: The Reboot.

Creator and choreographer Ashley Banjo says: "It is approaching eight years since Diversity won Britain's Got Talent in front of an audience of more than 20 million and thanks to the support of the British public and our legion of fans we have gone from strength to strength."

Driven by their motto Dream, Believe, Achieve, Diversity continue to inspire all generations and are a remarkable example of what can be accomplished with dedication, belief and hard work.

The Banjo brothers are at the heart of Diversity with the present line-up including Ashley and Jordan Banjo, Mitchell Craske, Sam Craske, Perri Kiely, Warren Russell and Terry Smith.

Their mother, Danielle Banjo, was instrumental in their formation, having once been a ballet dancer. She now helps to manage Diversity, as well as running Danceworks Studios.

Jordan says: "Genesis is the finale to all the shows that we've done so far on all of our tours. As far as what to expect, everyone who's seen us knows we get bigger and better each time. Throughout the years, we've grown older and smarter. This show, I know it's a cliché, but it is going to be bigger and better. I hope everyone who's been on the journey with us will realise that."

Diversity

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Despite the band's success, Jordan is anything but blasé about Diversity. "We'd love to take the credit and say there's intricate planning but I feel we've been really lucky and people have got behind us. Ash is my older brother, then there are other brothers, best friends and the like: we are literally a group of friends and brothers. Every day is a blessing.

"We get up and go and film and perform. I look around and I know how lucky are we. I can't believe we are where we are. Because of that, people understand us. Everybody loves our feel-good vibe. There's enough sadness in the world so Diversity tries to spread a positive message. That's what I feel like we have."

Of course, it all started with their win on Britain's Got Talent. They won a Street Dance Weekend Competition in 2007 and stunned the BGT judges when they lined up before Amanda Holden, Piers Morgan and Simon Cowell. And though Susan Boyle was the clear favourite to win the show, Diversity triumphed.

Jordan says the show changed their lives. "I think we undervalued how important that moment was. Even to this day, it's still such a shock. It doesn't feel real. When Susan Boyle was in the final, nobody else was gonna win apart from her. So as soon as we knew we were at least second, we were already high-fivin'. But then when they said our name, half of us fell over and the other half fell on the floor.

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"We were just taking each day as it came. We were dancing in shopping centres at the same time as BGT. I was doing GCSEs and hoping to be an accountant. So now, eight years on, to be dancing two shows at the Barclaycard Arena is incredible."

The boys have a big public profile but have managed to avoid controversy. They take seriously their status as role models and hope to inspire a new generation.

"That's always been a goal. For us, it's never been about the fame. You won't see us falling out of clubs in the papers. It's about creating a legacy and an idea. I feel like in terms of street dance in the UK, we've opened the floodgates and made it mainstream.

"When I was younger I never took it as seriously because it was my mum's dance school and my older brother was the teacher. That's all changed."

Indeed it has. A typical year in the life of Diversity is a rollercoaster ride of TV shows, meetings about Christmas specials and random calls from promoters.

"It never flatlines. It's never quiet."

Towards the end of last year, Jordan imagined he might have a few quiet weeks. And then the phone rang. And he was asked to feature on I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here.

"I was teaching with Nathan when the phone went. It was ITV. I said 'Do they want me to perform on the show?' And they said: 'No, they want you to go in'. One minute I was ordering a chicken kebab doing a dance lesson and going to see the girlfriend, the next I'm being lined up for a TV show in Australia. "Before I went in, I thought it might be a bit fake. But you soon find out it isn't."

Andy Richardson

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