Wirksworth INdependDANCE Youth Company

Wirksworth INdependDANCE, formed in 2004 and based in Derbyshire, is one of the few youth dance companies in the UK today making full-length contemporary dance theatre work. The company offers young people in the Derbyshire Dales the opportunity to develop their dance, performance, creativity and choreography skills within a fun, supportive, positive and sociable environment.

A range of performance opportunities are offered to the dancers, from local sharings of work through regional platforms (e.g. Wirksworth Festival, Interface – Derbyshire Youth Dance Platform) to very challenging and exciting experiences such as performing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, or working with peers on a collaborative dance project in Marbourg, Germany.

The dance theatre pieces are created collaboratively – the director/choreographer using devising and improvisation techniques with the performers before structuring the completed piece – and explore new approaches to story-telling performance. The work, which takes contemporary issues and stories of relevance to young people as an inspirational starting point, has been enjoyed and celebrated by people of all ages.

“Inspirational” Richard Demarco. 2008

What this youth company are producing is exceptional….many of the dancers displaying emotional highs expressed both with their bodies and through their spoken text.” Broadway Baby, Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2012

In 2014 INdependDANCE created a full-length work “The Romeo and Juliet Project”  based on Shakespeare’s well-loved story. It uses the narrative to explore homophobic attitudes and bullying behaviours, including cyber-bullying, amongst young peoples’ communities. The piece follows two stories in parallel – the first of young people falling in love, but harassed, threatened and bullied by their peers; the second of intense preparations for an end of year dance production of Romeo and Juliet. Both stories, one inside and one outside the rehearsal studio, advance side by side towards their tragic consequence.

The company took this show to the International Youth Arts Festival in Kingston Upon Thames. They also plan to make a dance film of the piece for use in anti-bullying group work with young people.

This year the company are mid way through the creation of a new work ‘Out of the Forest’. This piece looks at the role of females in tradition Fairytales and cleverly turns them upside down. The piece compiles the essence of several loved fairytales into a modern retelling with feminist outcomes for young women today.


Hear it from others: 

Graham Sellors, Derbyshire Writer, Wirksworth Festival 2013

The dance theatre evening last night was superb. It was a privilege to see it. Thank you, and the dancers. We came home wanting to tell friends about it.

Laura Atkinson, Gestalt and Drama Therapist, Wirksworth Festival 2013

This youth company were magnificent. I was held by every moment. Their dance and performance abilities shone through. It captured the story in todays world. The set was very impressive and really added to the piece as a whole. What a privilege to see .

Kim Johnson, Derbyshire Arts Education Consultant DCC, Wirksworth Festival 2013

A powerful interpretation of the story of Romeo and Juliet, translated into a contemporary love story, of two young lesbian lovers tormented and driven to despair by bullying. Skilfully facilitated and directed by Debi, the young cast of INdependDANCE devised the work themselves through improvisation. The young artists clearly felt a strong ownership of the adaptation and empathy with the terror and the tragedy of the unfolding story, and because of this INdependDANCE were able to deliver a deeply convincing and passionate performance.

Broadway Baby, Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2012

What this youth company are producing is exceptional….many of the dancers displaying emotional highs expressed both with their bodies and through their spoken text.

Janice Price, Sports Development, AGS, Wirksworth Festival 2012

I was so impressed with the quality of work and the professionalism of such young dancers. It was breath-taking and moving at the same time. A very big “well done” for such an exceptional performance.

Wirksworth audience member, former dancer parent, Wirksworth Festival 2012:

Very moving, very beautiful, very skilled.

Linda Taylor, Primary School teacher, Wirksworth Festival 2010

This was the best thing I have seen for ages – I’ve been to the Royal Albert Hall to see opera and to Nottingham to see Cats recently – and this was far better, I loved it.

Cllr Mike Ratcliffe, Wirksworth Town Mayor, Wirksworth Festival 2010

I would like to pass on my congratulations to you and all your dancers for a truly wonderful performance last night. The setting, music and movement on stage was absolutely mesmerising and | am sure all those watching had nothing but admiration for the young people involved.

David Bell, High Peak Arts, Pomegranate 2008

I really enjoyed coming out to see your show at the Pomegranate in Chesterfield. I can’t think of anything I’ve seen for a long while I’ve enjoyed as much! I liked the way you tackled really serious material, and the lovely way the whole company worked together, especially the different ages, as if they were one big family! Staging – simple, bold and very professional. And the dancing – clear, imaginative, purposeful

Charlotte Rattenbury, AGS, former Head of Drama, Pomegranate 2008

Wow! Your dancers blew my mind last Tuesday! It was STUNNING! Well done to all of you, I was so impressed – I could watch something like that every week.

Richard Demarco, Art Commentator, Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2008

The work is inspirational”

“…the work that Debi Hedderwick is doing with her youth dance company in a small town in Derbyshire is proof of the transformative power of art in the community.”