This October, Dance City hosted Inspire Festival – a weekend dedicated to dance and ageing. The Festival was the first of its kind, aiming to bring together the community of mature dancers aged over 55 in the North East and beyond. Inspire Festival provided a platform for older people to come together and celebrate dance through a range of workshops, classes and talks. The weekend also featured two evening performances featuring works from a range of artists, dancers and choreographers.

Renowned choreographer, Sir Richard Alston created a piece specifically for Inspire Festival. His captivating work, Moving On, was a collaboration with his long-standing dancer, Martin Lawrance. Dance artists and choreographers Dora Frankel and Tim Rubidge also presented engaging works. Dance City’s 55+ company, Boundless, shared a dance choreographed by John Kendall, addressing the concept of old and new memories.

The two-day Festival saw over 200 visitors, and featured performances and classes from a total of 69 artists. The Festival drew plenty of media attention, featuring on Tyne and Wear Local TV station, ITV Tyne Tees and Spice Radio.

“We can approach the subject of dance and ageing in many different ways – but it seems to me that Dance City made a courageous and very inclusive initiative” – Tim Rubidge

Dance City was honoured to be joined by local centenarian, Vera Stonehouse. Vera was born in Byker in 1921, and celebrated her 100th birthday earlier this year. A former professional ballroom dancer, Vera was keen to sit-in on Inspire Festival’s ballroom workshop. In the essence of Inspire, Vera proved that no-one is ‘too old’ to dance, as she joined instructor Caroline Banks for a waltz around the studio.

Vera shared some pearls of wisdom, reminding everyone of the physical benefits of dance as a great form of exercise and encouraging everyone to give it a go. Vera also urged the younger generation to revive social dancing and hoped to see a return of the dancehall.

Pictured above: Vera Stonehouse and her husband Andrew ballroom dancing in their youth

Caught on video below, 100 year old Vera dancing with Caroline Banks, a ballroom dance instructor at Dance City’s Inspire Festival.


Inspire Festival reminded a generation of dancers of the lifelong joys of dance. For those who had never danced before, to seasoned performers, the Festival was a unique opportunity to explore movement and creativity with others. Dance has no upper age limit – it welcomes all and Dance City is proud to support all dancers in discovering their passion.


Some of the attendees shared their thoughts on the weekend:

“A wonderful celebration of dance for the mature body.”

“Dance City welcomes everyone, I cannot praise them enough for their dance opportunities, positive wellbeing and inclusivity.”

“A great weekend spent in a vibrant, friendly and supportive environment.”


Inspire Festival may have come to a close, but Dance City offers weekly classes for those aged 55+. Click the links below to find out about the classes:

Hang Aerial

Ballroom & Latin

Fitsteps Friday

Fitsteps Tuesday

Ballet Improvers

Ballet Beginners

Slow Flow Yoga


Tap Improvers

Tap Beginners

Tap Show Class

Zoom classes:


Ballet Beginners


Tap Improvers