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The Company

Fertile Ground returns to the stage in 2024 with Play, Pause, Repeat, a stunning programme showcasing some of the best emerging dancers from the North East.

Dancers Daisy Dancer, Pagan Hunt, Alex Thirkle and Hayley Walker will be performing new work by Patricia Okenwa and Jamaal Burkmar.


Every year we recruit a new company of talented professional dancers with strong connections to the North East of England. Each cohort of emerging dancers works with internationally renowned choreographers to create and tour new works.  The period of paid engagemnt and the experience the dancers gain during their time with Fertile Ground helps them develop new professional skills, supporting their career development and progression.

To be considered for the position for future seasons, please send your C.V. to using "FG audition" as subject title and sign up to our newsletter for updates.


Headshot of choreographer Patricia Okenwa

Patricia Okenwa - Choreographer
is a choreographer and dance artist, trained at John Neumeier School of Hamburg Ballet and at Rambert School. Patricia was a dancer for Rambert for 12 years and was commissioned to choreograph for the company in 2016. Hydrargyrum toured the UK and had its London premiere at Sadler's Wells Theatre. A founding member of New Movement Collective (NMC) focused on Interdisciplinary, site or specific work. Most recently she co-created and performed Les Noces - The Departure at Woolwich Works, London. She was part of the second cohort of Sadler's Summer University 2015-18.

Head shot of choreographer Jamaal Burkmar.

Jamaal Burkmar - Choreographer
Jamaal is an international award-winning choreographer. He has been commissioned by and received support from Dance Hub in Birmingham, Leeds Dance Partnership, Phoenix Dance Theatre, Mobius Dance and more. His work has a strong relationship to music.

Black and white head shot of dancer Daisy Dancer.

Daisy Dancer - Dancer
Born in the North East of England, Daisy trained in various forms of dance throughout her adolescence at Dance City in Newcastle, later joining the National Youth Dance Company touring England with works by Sharon Eyal and Boris Seva. Daisy went on to study at The Place in London, followed by a masters degree with the Northern School of Contemporary Dance's postgraduate company Verve, where she toured nationally and internationally. During her studies, she worked with companies, choreographers and movement practitioners such as Kor'sia, Extended Play, Fabio Liberti, Sam Coren, Liam Francis and Renaud Wiser. Daisy is a dedicated learner and received a first class honours degree from London Contemporary Dance School, as well as receiving a distinction in her masters degree with Northern School of Contemporary Dance. She hopes to continue learning and growing as a mover and thinker as she continues to pursue her passion of a career in dance.

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Pagan Hunt - Dancer

Pagan is a Dance Artist from Shropshire, based in Newcastle since 2019 when she completed her MA Advanced Dance Performance at Dance City. Since then, Pagan has worked with companies including EQ Dance, Northern Dance, Mad Dogs Dance Theatre and Meta4 Dance Company, as well as with International Street Theatre show Spark!. Pagan is co-founder of Pelican Theatre, a North East based dance company she runs with Ellie Trow, and has recently branched into dance writing starting her own platform called Commotion.

Black and white headshot of dancer Alex Thirkle

Alex Thirkle - Dancer
Alex Thirkle, from Sunderland, trained at the Rambert School of Ballet and Contemporary Dance. While still in training, he was an apprentice with Humanhood Dance Company, and he then immediately began working with Russell Maliphant Dance Company, touring internationally.  In 2023 he joined Tavaziva Dance to tour ‘Boy’s Khaya’. Alex’s other performance and film work includes ‘Playscape’ by FKA twigs and Juliano Nunes; ‘Family’ by Sharon Eyal; and a London College of Fashion (LCF) collaboration with Alexander Whitley Dance Company. Alex has also danced in music videos by artists such as Ellie Goulding and Koreless.

Black and white headshot of dancer Hayley Walker.

Hayley Walker - Dancer

Hayley grew up in Newcastle and began dancing at her local dance school studying RAD ballet and modern. At the age of 11 she joined Dance City’s CAT programme. She then went on to train at Rambert School of Ballet and Contemporary Dance at 16. Upon graduation she joined post graduate company Emergence touring works by Joss Arnott and Sharon Watson. 


Hayley has featured in music videos, short films and tv series working with Maxine Doyle, Sarah Dowling, Balbir Singh, Nina Nesbitt, Liam Fender, Reebok, Dune London, Lindy Electronics. R&D’s include Corey Baker Dance, Sisters Grimm, Marika Brussel and Hit The Ground Running Dance Theatre.


Since then Hayley has been working and performing in France and Portugal with Sublime Dance Company, Kayzer Ballet and DLP. Upon moving back to the North East she has completed two tours of ‘Jumpers for Goalposts’ with Meta4 Dance and also joined Northern Dance, performing and researching various works.

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