Campaign launched to give “brilliant young people an experience they'll never forget” as they represent our region

Campaign launched to give “brilliant young people an experience they’ll never forget” as they represent our region

A young dance company from Gosforth Civic Theatre (GCT) has been chosen to perform at a prestigious national festival, but £10,000 must be raised to get them there

Checkmate, an original performance piece by the theatre’s youth dance and youth voices programmes, saw the company progress through multiple rounds of the competition to reach One Dance UK’s U.Dance festival, and it will now represent the North East at the event next month.

Determined to make this dream a reality, the GCT team, led by Chief Executive Rob Huggins, has launched a fundraising drive to find the sum needed to transport the 20 young performers, plus some of their parents, carers and other chaperones, to the event in Liverpool.

Rob explained: “We are so proud of our young members whose talent, hard work and dedication have resulted in this brilliant news. U.Dance is an amazing opportunity, and we are resolute in our aim to ensure every single one of them can take full advantage of it.”

GCT’s Youth Dance Company is made up of young people with learning disabilities, and Checkmate, which, choreographed by group leaders Heather Huggins and Kelly Turnbull, uses the metaphor of chess to explore the power struggles and barriers faced by all of us in society.

Although it was first performed at GCT’s annual dance platform for people with learning disabilities, Freedom Moving 2023 before the theatre’s youth choir, GCT Voices, was fully established, it has since been elevated by a choral arrangement created by Chichi Igun and MattiImarhiagbe from Voices of Virtue gospel choir, who have led the theatre’s singers – all of whom attend mainstream schools in the local area – since they came together last September.

Checkmate is set to the Depeche Mode track ‘Enjoy the Silence’, arranged by Chichi and Matti, with the young dancers supported by the uplifting tones of their peers from GCT Voices, everyone on stage at the same time.

Rob continued: “The piece brings together a unique group for a unique performance in a true collaboration, merging the skills of young people from different backgrounds and abilities to create something truly beautiful. This is the very essence of what we wanted to achieve with Gosforth Civic Theatre when we opened our doors in 2016, and we know it means a great deal to them to have the chance to present it at the U.Dancenational festival.

“However, as a charity, when we realised it was going to cost more than £10,000 to send the 20 performers and 15 supporters to Liverpool for the weekend, we knew we would need some help to make that happen, and we are so grateful for any and all support that people feel able to offer.”

Taking place over the weekend of July 13th and 14thU.Danceis the biggest festival of its kind, offering young dance companies from all over the country the chance to perform on professional stages, take part in workshops with leading dance professionals, and explore a potential future career in dance.

The young people from GCT have been selected from thousands to take part, with eminent arts organisations such as the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts (LIPA), Liverpool’s Playhouse Theatre and The Liverpool Media Academy (LMA) set to be in attendance.

Find out more about, or make a donation to the Get Youth Dance to U.Dance campaign at, and hear from the participants and what being part of it means to its members on Liberdade’s Vimeo channel. Tickets and further information about all upcoming events at GCT are available from

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