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 Christopher Marney. Central offers vocational degree courses in dance at undergraduate and postgraduate level, all validated by the University of Kent. At its new premises in Southwark, Central will become 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, 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. The school is currently a member school of the Conservatoire for Dance and Drama (CDD), but over the next few years will be moving towards greater independence. Central is seeking self-registration as an independent Higher Education Provider with the Office for Students, with plans to end its membership of CDD by 1 August 2022. This is earlier than the 2023 exit date formerly published on our website. As Central moves into our new home, The Countess of Wessex Studios in Southwark, this path towards greater autonomy and independence will allow the School to respond dynamically to the changing needs of the dance world, as well as engage in new partnerships and activities locally, nationally and internationally. All Central courses will continue to be validated by the University of Kent, and the CDD and Central will continue to support our students in the successful completion of their studies, aiming to ensure there is no disruption for those studying with us during the transition to independence.
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 in Paris Garden 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 the late Christopher Gable CBE to provide professional dance training for young people aiming for a career in the dance industry. Ann and Christopher established the school’s values of artistic expression in dance, and the importance of technique. Christopher was a ballet dancer, choreographer, and actor. Born in London, Christopher studied at the Royal Ballet School, joining the Sadler’s Wells Royal Ballet in 1957. He was promoted to soloist in 1959 and principal in 1961. In 1987 he was appointed Artistic Director of Northern Ballet Theatre, then 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 23 October 1998.
Ballet Central, the school’s touring company was formed in 1984 to give final year undergraduate students first-hand experience of professional dance. This unique touring experience forming part of the degree course is unique to Central and provides students with valuable skills in performance and an understanding of production, making them particularly versatile, mature, and professional. Central School of Ballet is the only classical vocational school to offer pre-professional touring experience on such a scale.
The Countess of Wessex Studios
Following a highly successful fundraising campaign Central will relocate to greatly anticipated bespoke new premises in London’s Southwark early 2021. 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 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 typically visits on average 20 towns and cities across the UK, performing in mid-size theatres to ticket-buying audiences. 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.