Award-winning Dancers & Musicians To Celebrate Barnsley’s Proud Heritage

5th April 2023

Multi-award-winning dancers, live singers and musicians from the world-famous Carlton Main Frickley Colliery Band will march through Barnsley this month as part of a spectacular programme of live performances celebrating the region’s heritage.

The Wasteland Town Trails is a collaboration between Barnsley Council, Barnsley Museums, The Eldon High Street Heritage Action Zone, Barnsley Civic and Gary Clarke Company – a professional dance theatre company led by celebrated Grimethorpe-based choreographer Gary Clarke.

The live performances in Barnsley town centre take place ahead of ticketed shows at Barnsley Civic on 21-22 April, where Gary Clarke Company will be performing WASTELAND, the thrilling sequel to their highly acclaimed COAL.

Clarke’s vividly physical dance show brings together a company of exceptional dancers, a community cast of singers, brass musicians, archive film footage, a powerful 90’s rave soundtrack and unique artwork by Jimmy Cauty (co-founder of The KLF). WASTELAND explores how two different generations coped as the pits closed, communities crumbled and a new rave subculture emerged.

“We’ll be bringing WASTELAND into the heart of Barnsley and the Carlton Main Frickley Colliery band will be playing some very familiar tunes,” explained Gary, who originates from Grimethorpe.

“WASTELAND’s very own ‘Pit Men Singers’ will parade through various locations singing some of the show’s classic miners’ hymns, while five electrifying dancers will rave their way through the town before inviting the public to join them in a 90’s silent rave.

“We’ll be performing WASTELAND at Barnsley Civic later in the month. It’s particularly poignant to be bringing the production to my hometown and telling the story of devastating pit closures and how, while one generation ground to a halt, another came to life through the illegal rave scene.”

On 19 April, five dancers from Gary Clarke Company will perform dance sections from WASTELAND on the ‘Raver’s Dance Trail’ – taking in Barnsley Interchange, Library @ The Lightbox, the Markets, Alhambra Shopping Centre and Cheapside. From 1pm, dancers will invite members of the public to take part in a silent rave in The Glass Works Square.

Having recently been announced as one of Arts Council England’s National Portfolio Organisations, Gary Clarke Company has performed nationally to widespread acclaim. The company’s latest performance has been described by critics as “entirely captivating, gripping and one of the best pieces of dance theatre seen in years.”

Gary added: “Growing up in Grimethorpe, a place with very little arts provision, I have experienced first-hand the monumental impact and transformational change dance and culture can have on people. I believe it is my duty as a working-class artist to make marginalised communities visible on professional stages and showcase their unique stories.”

Tegwen Roberts, Project Manager at Barnsley Council and the Eldon Street High Street Heritage Action Zone (HSHAZ) – a four-year partnership project between Barnsley Council and Historic England that’s reviving revive Barnsley’s heritage and involving local communities, stakeholders and young people in the project, said: “The Eldon Street Heritage Action Zone has been hugely successful in bringing the history of the iconic street to life.

“A full and exciting programme of cultural activity throughout the project, alongside critical capital works, has engaged with communities and shared stories of Barnsley’s fascinating past. 

“We are delighted to be working with Gary Clarke Company and using Eldon Street as a backdrop for a contemporary dance piece that represents such an important time in history.

“It’s brilliant to be able to animate the town centre through the medium of dance and theatre, for people of all ages and interests to enjoy.”

Nicola Brown from Historic England added: “Barnsley’s mining heritage and its decline have played major roles in shaping the town and its people. We’re proud to be involved with this innovative dance piece that chronicles a pivotal moment in industrial Britain’s history.”  

For more details and tickets to the performances at Barnsley Civic visit

Award-winning Dancers & Musicians To Celebrate Barnsley’s Proud Heritage