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The experience for the young dancers that took part in the 2019 Yorkshire Schools Dance Festival was significantly enriched.


 'Engage & Inspire' was an extension to the 2019 Festival and supported our ambition to further develop young people as artists and nurture their understanding of progression in the creative & cultural sector.

Children & young people engage with the Festival through extra curricular clubs, dance lessons, examination courses and with community dance companies. 'Engage & Inspire' was a first encounter with professional artists & dance companies for the vast majority of participants. We wanted to cultivate a conversation - to Engage and Inspire! 

Over the course of the four festival days,

children & young people had the opportunity to:​


  • Watch professional dance work from two renowned companies from the North of England - Northern Rascals and Hawk Dance Theatre. For many this was their first encounter with professional dance performance. For the professional companies this was a rich exposure to a diverse range of young people and further support audience development.

  • Took part in high quality participatory workshops delivered by artists from Yorkshire & the North of England & representatives from One Dance UK and Northern School of Contemporary Dance.

  • Engaged creatively with media arts via an interactive digital dance installation. Brink & Howl Creative promoted fresh approaches to dance and allowed young people to see how technology can be used to enhance & excite performance.

  • Listened to One Dance UK’s Young Ambassadors, Northern School of Contemporary Dance students and sector leaders talk about potential progression routes into the creative sector.

  • A proportion of participants had the opportunity to complete the Arts Award Discover level.

  • York Dance Space choreographed a spectacular finale involving all 300 performers on each day.

Artist Development:​

Through an artist development strand, dance professionals from Yorkshire & the North of England were offered the opportunity to work across a full day with Hannah and Drew Wintie-Hawkins from York Dance Space, both highly experienced dance educators, and with the Festival's producer and cultural education consultant, Colin Jackson. The day informed & developed the artists' engagement with schools as workshop leaders & providers of extra-curricular activities. They received guidance & resources to shape effective engagements with schools. 


We are grateful to Arts Council England for funding 'Engage & Inspire' and to our partners for supporting this exciting development: York Conferences, One Dance UK, Northern School of Contemporary Dance, York Dance Space and Children & Young People's Dance Network North.

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