The Mini-Apprentices look forward to 4.30pm on a Tuesday all week long. That’s when they skip across the road from Tesco Gateshead’s car park and up the street to the Trinity Centre, the beautiful historic building that once was a church hall and is now the home of the exciting and engaging Gateshead Studio Project.
This community dance school, founded in 2012, is a Community Interest Company lead by a highly experienced and internationally respected team. Its aim is to provide high quality dance education, training and opportunities in our home city, and they have an awesome track record inspiring and encouraging disadvantaged young people through their accredited programmes.
Miss Mini-Apprentice has been attending the classes for a few months and we have found the Kids Creative group to be a really great introduction to contemporary dance. Suitable for children aged 5-8 (with an ages 8-11 class running the same evening 5.30pm-6.30pm), our little girl felt welcomed and safe from the outset. As a child of parents whose “advanced skill-set” certainly doesn’t include the art of dance, it has been great to see her confidence and ability increasing. The lessons are fantastic for improving focus, listening skills, ability to follow directions, motor skills, fitness, cooperation, creativity, patience, self-control, self-discipline, physical control, self-awareness, flexibility, perseverance, determination and developing friendships.
Initially Master Mini-Apprentice wasn’t particularly concerned about taking lessons himself, however his interest steadily grew. Our son was very inspired by the very friendly and welcoming atmosphere and started to really look up to Artistic Director Martin and the bigger boys who also come for lessons. A couple of weeks ago he gave a lesson a go and absolutely loved it! Debbie (Head of Education and Community Dance) filled him with such confidence that he settled in immediately and tried his very best at this new skill-area, feeling very proud of what he had achieved.
It really suits us to have mid-week lessons, as we’re very keen to keep weekends free for family time for as long as possible. Because the lessons are ‘pay-as-you-go’ (£4 per hourly session), without having to sign up for monthly or termly blocks, we have flexibility. Although we try to commit to sessions and keep the lessons as a priority, we really welcomed this in December, when we had to miss several lessons due to winter bugs. With no uniform requirements and a bare-foot policy in the studio, there is no outlay for expensive tutus or costumes or fancy shoes. I’ll hopefully not be required to perfect the ‘ballet-bun’ hairstyle either, or invest in hair spray for our daughter, as I’ve still not mastered how do to it at the ripe old age of 35! The community dance feel suits our family well.
On Thursdays and Saturdays the secondary-school aged dancers meet to develop technique and creativity to a high standard with Gateshead Youth Dance. On Mondays and Wednesdays, the elite 13-16 year old dancers have the opportunity to study in the highly regarded Phoenix Youth Academy programme- Gateway Studio Project is the only organisation in the country to link to the prestigious Leeds-based Phoenix Company. On Thursdays from 7pm professional dancers, dance teachers and competent amateurs meet for the Adult Contemporary class. On Mondays at 7.30 all adults are welcome to come along and let their hair down and get moving for the Dance Fit session. Kickboxing lessons have recently started on a Wednesday evening.
Martin, Debbie and Pete are passionate and excited about what they do. They have Big Plans to buy the building and transform it into a community hub, where our residents can enjoy the highest standard of dance education, artistic professionals can be based, community groups can meet and thrive in the very central Gateshead location and an independent café can provide a much-needed community meeting place to our town.
For a gander at the space that’s currently on offer, have a look here-it’s even available to hire for rehearsals or meetings. There are FREE lunch time music concerts and all manner of exciting things getting on. Do get in touch with Gateway Studio Project if you have any questions or comments- they’d love to hear from you. We think they’re amazing. Kick off your dancing shoes and get down to Gateway Studio Project to decide for yourself!
If this sounds like the kind of thing Gateshead needs more of, please consider supporting our town, our community and this project by making a donation to the fund so Gateway Studio can buy this stunning building and put down solid roots in their new home.
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Photo credit © Pete Huggins