Vision, Mission and History

About Us

Central School of Ballet is a world-leading centre for professional dance training based in the South Bank arts community in London’s Southwark, led by Executive Director Mark Osterfield and Artistic Director Kate Coyne. Central offers vocational degree courses in dance at undergraduate and postgraduate level, all validated by the University of Kent. At Central’s new premises named after the school’s Royal Patron The Countess of Wessex Studios, Central is a thriving hub for the dance industry providing professional training degree courses for those aiming for a career in dance, a thriving Junior School with classes in ballet for children after school in term time, and an Associate Programme for young people aiming for professional dance training. A range of adult dance classes in the evenings and on Sundays provides the chance to improve general fitness and wellbeing.

Central is an independent training organisation and charity, registered charity number 285398. In June 2022, Central joined the registered Office for Students English higher education providers. This means that all undergraduate and postgraduate students studying at Central are now registered with Central School of Ballet rather than the Conservatoire of Dance and Drama. All degree courses continue to be validated by the University of Kent.


Central School of Ballet offers education and training for individuals to realise their potential for excellence as dancers, and in so doing, supports an increasingly diverse and innovative, internationally recognised culture of dance in the UK.


In the next 5 years, The Countess of Wessex Studios will become a thriving dance hub in the South Bank arts community in London’s Southwark with a local, national and international reputation for producing versatile and highly accomplished dancers while championing broad engagement with the joys of dance.

Christopher Gable and Ann Stannard

The school was founded in 1982 by Ann Stannard and Christopher Gable to provide professional dance training for young people aiming for a career in the dance industry. The pair brought with them decades of experience and a shared vision for the school’s core values of artistic expression in dance, and the importance of technique.

Ann trained and worked at The Rambert School of Ballet before bringing her skills to the role of Administrative Director at Central School of Ballet. She embedded further education into the curriculum and believed in preparing students not only for their dance careers, but also for a rounded life beyond the stage.

Christopher was a ballet dancer, choreographer, and actor. He was born in London and studied at the Royal Ballet School before joining the Sadler’s Wells Royal Ballet in 1957. He was promoted to soloist in 1959 and principal in 1961. In 1987 Christopher was appointed Artistic Director of Northern Ballet Theatre, which at the time was a small regional company. Under his leadership Northern Ballet became a company of national renown by presenting imaginative new works and staging impressive revivals of old classics.

Christopher was awarded the CBE in 1996, and died on 23 October 1998.

The Countess of Wessex Studios

Central’s new home, The Countess of Wessex Studios, named after our Royal Patron, is part of London’s flourishing arts community on the South Bank.  Close to Waterloo Station, the studios are accessible by all London’s transport networks.

The new premises occupy over 3,000 square metres, almost three times the size of Central’s old studios in Clerkenwell. Here we offer state-of-the-art facilities to rival many in the UK, including a fully equipped studio theatre, study, and resource centres. Our health and wellbeing suite provides facilities for our highly trained dance students with services in psychology, nutrition, physiotherapy, Pilates, and a Recovery from Injury Programme.

Ballet Central

Ballet Central is Central School of Ballet’s touring company formed in 1984 by Christopher Gable to provide student dancers with professional touring experience. Ballet Central’s annual tour visits a variety of venues and mid-size theatres around the UK. Populated by the final year students of the BA (Hons) Professional Dance & Performance degree, joining the Ballet Central company forms a core part of the degree course and, most importantly, supports graduate employment. The repertoire each year is informed by Central’s relationships with leading choreographers and dance industry influencers who provide the opportunity for students to work on new pieces, often created especially for the tour, or spectacular revivals of much-loved classic ballets and theatrical productions. This experience, working with industry leaders in the studio and the resulting performance experience, makes the students particularly employable. They become very versatile and highly skilled with specific performing knowledge that can be directly transferred to dance companies and international theatrical productions. Central is the only professional dance training school in the UK providing touring experience on such a scale.