Meet The Team

martin hylton

artistic director

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Martin began dancing at the age of 9 and joined the Harehills Youth Dance group under the direction of Nadine Senior MBE. He successfully auditioned for the Northern School of Contemporary Dance in 1987, and in 1998 won the C&A Cosmopolitan Young Dancer of the Year award.  After graduating from NSCD he joined the Nye Carte Blanche company in Bergen, Norway.  This was the beginning of a special relationship with Scandinavia as Martin went on to work and perform with companies such as Skanes Dance Theatre, Malmo, Sweden under the direction of Patrick King from Culberg Balleten and Mari Brolin-Tani in Aarhus, Denmark.  Martin has also worked and performed with various companies in the UK, including Phoenix Dance Theatre, and has seen him build strong connections within the industry.

Martin has taught contemporary dance throughout his career all over the world in professional, educational, custodial and community settings.

He became the Youth Dance Academy Director for the Tees Valley based in Holmwood School, Middlesbrough, and in 2008 Martin joined the Centre for Advanced Training team based at Dance City as the Dance Development Manager and CAT teacher/choreographer.

Martin is now a high profile leader in the dance community. He holds a Master’s Degree in Arts, Business and Creativity from Newcastle University and is a Clore Leadership Fellow. Through the Clore Leadership program and his passion for dance, Martin realised his vision to create Gateway Studio Project in 2012.   


head of education & community dance


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    Pete Huggins began teaching young dancers in the Harehills and Chapeltown areas of Leeds in the 1970's, having graduated from the Carnegie School of Physical Education in 1974.  Pete instigated the inclusion and development of dance in the curriculum of Earl Cowper Middle schools, which led to the founding of the Chapeltown Youth Dance Theatre.  During the 80's this youth company gained a national reputation within the profession, working with Robert Cohan CBE, Alleta Collins, Neville Campbell and Janet Smith MBE, to name but a few.   Pete moved to Newcastle in the early 90's, taking on the post of Education Advisor (Dance) for the Newcastle Education Authority.  In 2001, Pete became the Youth Dance Project Manager at Dance City, and was responsible for the founding, management and direction of the critically acclaimed Northern Youth Dance Company and the delivery of it's national and international tour.

    In 2004 Pete became Dance City's Associate Director with a responsibility for Education and created the Dance City Centre for Advanced Training.  Pete is now director of his own photographic company, 'Aperture Dance'.   He also teaches Dance History, dance technique and choreography to dance institutions nationally.    Pete received an MBE in 2013 for his services to British Dance. He is very excited to be co-ordinating our Phoenix and youth provision and is enthused to be working with our talented young people.


    youthDance Coordinator

    Passionate about dance since a young age, Julie has completed several dance qualifications and trained nationally with the Royal Academy of Dance:

    RAD/ISTD Vocational Examinations - Advanced Level 2 in Ballet, Tap and Modern.
    Trained in A-Level Dance at Dame Allan’s School, and in London with the Royal Academy of Dance.


    Julie’s studies included Dance History, Anatomy, Performance, Choreography and Dance Educational Contexts.
    Julie is a Registered Teacher and Licentiate of the Royal Academy of Dance, which is the highest internationally recognised teaching qualification awarded by the Academy.

    Julie holds a BA Hons Degree in Ballet Education (First Class) and completed the Graduate Teacher Programme at Northumbria University.
    She served as Head of Dance at Newcastle High School for Girls for 10 years, designing and delivering the curriculum and extra-curricular Dance programmes from Nursery to A Level.


    Julie has taught at the Jill Errington School of Dance and Drama since 2010 and has previously worked as a Key Stage 5 Dance Examiner for AQA.
    Julie has a long-standing association with The People’s Theatre Arts Group, choreographing several productions since 2010 including musicals, plays and the annual pantomime.

    Julie continues to pursue her desire to deliver Dance in a wide range of educational and community settings by working as a Community Artist with Dance City and an educational specialist with LP Dance in Education.  Julie is currently our Youth Provision Co-ordinator, responsible for the engagement and delivery of our Gateway Juniors, Gateway Youth Group and Gateway@Home online programme. 


    Administration / Operations OFFICER

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    Ashleigh is passionate about storytelling, and helping small businesses and charities to stand out online.

    Ashleigh is responsible for running our administration and operational function, to help free up the time of the Directors, Martin and Debbie Hylton. 

    An advocate for equality, diversity and inclusion, she has a long history of working in charities in both operational and trustee roles.

    She assists as a mentor for some of our younger students encouraging them with their writing and creative projects.

    Ashleigh has a podcast #NurtureYourZest which brings people together from all walks of life to talk about the 'prickly' stuff (adversity), and how through courage, creativity and curiosity you can find inspiration, and #NurtureYourZest.

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