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Wirksworth INdependDANCE

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. The company, which has inclusive policies and training processes, is non-auditioned, aiming to give every young person interested in participating the opportunity to flourish. It offers young people in the Derbyshire Dales the opportunity to develop their dance, performance, creativity and choreography skills within a supportive, aspirational and sociable environment. The young people work collaboratively using themes that engage and inspire them to create innovative contemporary dance work ( see below), and exploring new approaches to narrative dance theatre, with directorial and choreographic support from their dance professional leader, Debi Hedderwick; they also receive weekly contemporary dance skills training.

The company have performed regularly at Edinburgh Fringe Festival, in 2019 being called “the most impressive youth production of the Fringe” by the Dancing Times, and in 2012 being shortlisted for the Amnesty International Freedom of Expression Award; at the International Youth Arts Festival, and on cultural exchange in Die en Provence, France, and Marburg, Germany.


“This company is an inclusive and inspirational group of people who clearly believe in the transformative power of learning through art.” The Fountain. Edinburgh Fringe 2019.


“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.” Richard Demarco, Edinburgh Fringe 2008


“The work that this company is producing is exceptional” Broadway Baby, Edinburgh Fringe 2012

Get involved! If you are interested in being a member of Wirksworth INdependDANCE please click on the button below to see class details and how to book.

Works of note:

  • A Letter to Alice (2019)
    A dance theatre piece using the framework of Alice Through the Looking Glass to explore challenges for young people in living with mental health issues. Performed Edinburgh Fringe ’19, to outstanding reviews, including “most impressive youth production at the Fringe” Dancing Times.

  • The Romeo and Juliet Project film (2018)
    A feature film created on location using the story as created in dance theatre production 2014 (see description below) and shown at Wirksworth Festival ’18 and the Derbyshire Police and Crime Commissioner Hate Crime Awareness Week ‘18, Derbyshire. “every young person, and every adult involved with them, should see this” Head of Equality Derbyshire Police.

  • Human Kind (2016)
    Exploring the present day refugee crisis and expressing young people’s responses to the stories and images of those of their peers forced into migrancy by oppression and war. The piece asks us to be compassionate and supportive of others in need.
    Performed at the International Youth Arts Festival, London, 2016 and Wirksworth Festival, and in 2017 for Holocaust Memorial Day in partnership with Amnesty International:
    “They danced from their hearts …very professional and full of emotion…beautiful, moving and thought provoking” Community Fayre

  • The Romeo and Juliet Project (2014)
    Exploring the result of homophobic attitudes and cyber bullying amongst young people, and performed at the International Youth Arts Festival and Wirksworth Festival.

      "The poignant and moving dances between the two girls were beautiful and emotive and I felt the affection and                pressures they were conveying through the choreography. The Romeo and Juliet Project is a thought-provoking                show and I urge everyone especially teenagers to go and see it.” Time and Leisure (West London), IYAF 2014.

  • In Transit (2012)
    Exploring the experiences of young people as solo migrants through out the world and at different times in history (including the Kindertransport of WW2), and performed at Edinburgh Fringe Festival and Wirksworth Festival and shortlisted for the Amnesty International Freedom of Expression Award.

       "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

  • The Rite of Spring (2010)
    Exploring emotional and relationship aspects of girls' transition into womanhood, and performed at Edinburgh Fringe Festival and Wirksworth Festival
    2010, collaborative work with young people in Marburg Germany as part of an international exchange programme developed by Anthony Gell School.

    Previous works:

  • The Dream, performed Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2008, Wirksworth Festival ’08

  • Sadako and the Thousand Cranes, performed Edinburgh Festival ’08, Wirksworth ’0

  • Find My Own Way Home, 2014, performed Interface Youth Dance Platform, Derby Theatre

  • Hide and Seek, 2013, performed Interface Youth Dance Platform, Buxton Opera House

  • The Drum Connection, 2011, performed Interface Youth Dance Platform, Derby Theatre

  • What Are You Watching? 2010, Interface Youth Dance Platform, Buxton Opera House

  • Mia’s Story, 2010, commissioned by Derbyshire County Council Eco Centre

  • All In a Days Work, 2007, performed Pomegranate Theatre, Wirksworth Festival ’07

  • Chance Meeting, 2007, performed Pomegranate Theatre, Wirksworth Festival ‘07

  • L’Homme Qui Plante Des Arbres, 2006, performed Die en Provence, Wirksworth Festival ‘06

  • Connections, 2005, performed Pomegranate Theatre, Wirksworth Festival ’05, ’07

  • Don’t Box Me In, 2005, commissioned by DCC LEA for the Headteachers Annual Conference Daughter of the Sea, 2004, performed Wirksworth Festival ‘04

  • My Favourite Things, 2004, performed Wirksworth Festival ‘04

  • Alone Together, 2003, performed E-Merge Youth Dance Platform, Wellingborough Theatre


A Letter to Alice (2019) review by J. A. Sutherland for Fountain Dance in Edinburgh Fringe '19

A Letter to Alice (2019) review by Seeing Dance in Edinburgh Fringe '19



Wonderful. A difficult topic handled with such raw honesty and maturity from such young dancers. You moved the audience to tears, it was brilliant, well done all of you.

Janice Price, Sports Development AGS School, 2019

It was absolutely beautiful and so moving….it was fabulous

Paula Moss, 2019

I was openly weeping.

Barbara Miller, 2017

I loved the performance. Emotionally charged and engaging, such a talented group of performers. A really inspiring show.

Jane Aitman, Childrens Services Senior Manager, 2019

A moving and inspiring performance. We get the feeling that every one of the young performers had been on the journey that they took us on - from despair through to joy and playfulness. Wonderful!

Leo and Clare Kitay, 2019

I absolutely loved this performance. Very moving story portrayed so expertly and skillfully by the young dancers. Beautiful and sensitive choreography.

Judith Hackney, 2019

Powerful story beautifully expressed through dance, movement and music. Energetic, moving and creative exploration of adolescence, identity and facing inner demons. All ages will enjoy this sensitive production.

Peter Riddle, 2019

Absolutely brilliant show. Not a single moment is wasted in this emotional and beautifully crafted performance. Every performer is totally committed. A visually stunning piece with powerful choreography. Highly recommend.

Jamie Wallwork, Actor and Writer, 2019

I have seen a number of shows from INdependDANCE, and the quality of work has been consistently impressive over a number of years ( and I speak not just as a member of our local community but as someone who enjoys theatre by national companies.) The company never seems to rest on its laurels but is always experimenting with new forms and ideas. In cleverly referencing and mirroring Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet this piece had a strong dramatic narrative; a live band of young local musicians gave it an extra drive and energy; the use of text messages flashed up on a large screen was a very effective way of  pushing the story's pace and expressing the growing viciousness of the bullies; Romeo and Juliet rose confidently and expressively to the central roles, and the whole company of youngsters performed with commitment, vivacity and skill. A privilege to be there.

Tony Jones, Award-winning writer (Writers Guild 2016 / former drama teacher) 2014

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.

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

The poignant and moving dances between the two girls were beautiful and emotive and I felt the affection and pressures they were conveying through the choreography. The Romeo and Juliet Project is a thought-provoking show and I urge everyone, especially teenagers to go and see it.

Time and Leisure (West London), IYAF 2014

IYAF wowed by Romeo & Juliet Project. Innovative angle, sensitively and beautifully danced. The hidden story in many lives. 

Tweet on IYAF 2014 website

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.

Graham Sellors, Derbyshire based writer, Wirksworth Festival 2013

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.

Linda Taylor, Primary School teacher, Wirksworth Festival 2010

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

David Bell, High Peak Arts, 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.

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

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