North East Connected

First graduating class dance to success

Students graduating from the three-year degree programme, which aims to build a long-lasting career in dance, have found success in teaching and performance positions.

Kate Pilbeam, 23 from Darlington will join post-graduate performance company Verve, based at the Northern School of Contemporary Dance in Leeds and Lerato Mncube has joined the Rosie Kay Dance Company, which was recently named Best Independent Dance Company the National Dance Awards. Lerato will be touring with the company in their next show. Classmate Cora Jay Williams, 21 from Hartlepool is set to join Lo-Guidice Dance, an international touring contemporary dance company based in the North East. Jessica Graham, 21 from Whitley Bay has secured a prestigious dance teaching position at Dame Allan’s School.

The BA (Hons) Dance Professional Practice was developed to enable people passionate about dance to do more than just dream about a career as a professional dancer. The degree is practically focused, with a strong emphasis on rigorous dance training in a range of styles including ballet, contemporary, urban/street, jazz and world. Students also get to work directly with professional choreographers and develop their own style and ideas.

Julie Campbell, Curriculum Leader for HE Dance at Gateshead College explains what makes this course so successful:

“What sets the Dance City/Gateshead College degree apart is the focus on the individual student, allowing them to achieve their ambitions and become employable dance professionals. The combination of dance performance, teaching and management modules allows students to explore a wide range of career possibilities and develop a strong and eclectic range of skills.  All the way through the course students take part in work placements and are encouraged to explore the dance industry as a whole, rather than focusing only on one area.  This means that when they get to Year 3 they are able to make informed decisions about their future employment and they can focus in on their own personal career pathway.”

Some of the first graduating class have chosen to continue their education, such as Agnieszka Chojnacka, who is undertaking postgraduate study to become a registered therapist, with a speciality in dance rehabilitation. Nicole Errington and Samantha Higham are both continuing their studies in order to become qualified teachers.

Anthony Baker, Artistic Director of Dance City says:

“We are delighted with this incredible outcome, which is a tangible validation of the quality of the teaching and writing of the degree course by Dance City and Gateshead College. It should give anyone thinking about studying dance the confidence to go for it in the knowledge that our BA (Hons) Dance Professional Practice opens all kinds of doors to a range of creative careers for passionate people.”

Alongside the degree, Dance City and Gateshead College also work in partnership to deliver a Level 3 Dance course, which is for school leavers and is the equivalent to three ‘A’ Levels. Focusingentirely on dance practice, the course   prepares students to apply for higher education or audition directly for specialist dance schools. Four of this year’s successful students have been accepted on the BA (Hons) Professional Dance Practice with others progressing to some of the most prestigious vocational dance schools in the country.

Maddy Horner, 18, moved with her whole family to Newcastle from Manchester in order to study the course and is staying on for another three years to attain the BA (Hons) Professional Dance Practice. Shannon McLoughlin, 18 from Hexham, has been attending Dance City since being talent spotted at the age of 13 by the Centre for Advanced Training (CAT). She completed the BTEC at Dance City and when considering where to continue her training she chose to remain because of the exceptional standard of teaching:

“When I went for auditions at other schools and met the teachers they just didn’t compare to the teachers here at Dance City and I just knew it was the right choice to stay and do the degree here, it’s definitely one of the best in the country.”

Judith Doyle, principal and chief executive of Gateshead College, says:

“These graduates are proof that our partnership with Dance City is a fantastic example of how we work hand in hand with leading businesses across a range of industries to deliver the best training programs. These partnerships allow us to deliver an outstanding quality of education while also providing students with the practical and technical skills, knowledge and experience they need to be successful. 

“Our relationship with Dance City means students are supported and mentored by leading dance experts with the most up to date and relevant knowledge of the industry and are integrated into the professional dance world, making valuable contacts that will serve them well in the future.”

There are two chances for prospective students to find out more about the degree at Open Days on Friday 30 September and Friday 28 October at Dance City in Newcastle. Attendees will take part in a contemporary technique class with a member of the teaching faculty, followed by a tour of Dance City’s facilities and the chance to watch current students at work. Places at the Open Days are free but limited and can be booked online at or by phone 0191 261 0505.

Enrolment for the Level 3 Dance course is at Gateshead College, Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm and until 7pmon Monday 12 September. Visit for more information.


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