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1200 young dancers take to the stage to reflect Yorkshire talent

Updated: Jan 31, 2020

Children and young people from 57 primary schools, secondary schools, colleges and community dance groups will take to the stage this weekend and next (16th/17th and 23rd/24th November) when they take part in the 2019 Yorkshire Schools Dance Festival at Central Hall, the University of York.

Groups will be travelling from as far afield as Ingleton, Hull, Thirsk and Barnsley to take part. Their performances will have been developed through after-school clubs, during curriculum time and as part of examination courses.

A theme is set each year. For 2019 it’s ‘Reflections’. The schools and groups have spent the past few months deciding how best to interpret this theme… and the results are impressive. We’ll be seeing work as varied as reinterpretations of the Snow White story through to a consideration of the physics of reflection to support work within science lessons.

Emma Pease, Class 3 teacher at Cowling Primary School, Keighley, says, “We thought about how social media affects us and our mental health. The group then modelled how we could reflect this negativity away from us - realising our strength together and becoming more resilient as a result.”

Laura Brett, Class teacher at Naburn CE Primary School, York, says “Our dance piece tells the story of a Grandma and Grandad reflecting on their lives as children, watching as visions of their younger selves relive some of the happier days in their lives. The children have had great fun choreographing this – prompting some discussion about the lives we lead and the mark we want to make on the world.”

The event is produced by York based arts education specialists ‘Creative Learning Partnerships’. Colin Jackson, Director, says, “Dance is an art form that is central to our heritage and culture. It’s celebrated increasingly on our TV screens through shows like ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ and ‘Britain’s Got Talent’. The sad state of affairs in schools, however, is that it is quickly disappearing from the curriculum - despite the overwhelming evidence of its positive impact on physical, emotional and social wellbeing. Dance is a collaborative process that develops team-work, resilience, communication skills, creativity and a sense of pride. Why shouldn’t our children be afforded these opportunities?”

The 1200 dancers will perform over four days to an audience of over 2000 people and, importantly, get the chance to see how other schools have interpreted the theme.

2019 sees an exciting extension to the event. Through funding from Arts Council England, ‘Engage & Inspire’ will offer the children and young people taking part in the event the opportunity to work with with professional artists from Yorkshire and the North. Northern Rascals and Hawk Dance Theatre will present specially commissioned performances, Casson & Friends and TenFoot Dance will deliver interactive workshops whilst Brink & Howl Creative will deliver an innovative digital dance installation combining music, dance and digital projections. There'll also be the opportunity to work with One Dance UK's, Young Ambassadors and take part in workshops delivered by the Northern School of Contemporary Dance CAT team. 200 children will have the opportunity to achieve an Arts Award to reward their efforts.

Jon Beney, Associate Artist at Hull Truck Theatre and Co-artistic Director at TenFoot Dance, said, “The Yorkshire Schools Dance Festival is a great opportunity for the young dancers of Yorkshire to come together and celebrate everything dance. As a kid I was inspired by many people that shaped my journey and it feels nice to have stories and skills to help inspire others.”

Performances begins at 3pm. Tickets are available via the Festival website ( and priced at £7 adults/£6 child (plus a booking fee).


The Yorkshire Schools Dance Festival is sponsored by Yorkshire Education. 'Engage & Inspire' is delivered through funding from Arts Council England and with the support of 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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