Central School Of Ballet

Final Year students in the news featuring online choreographic project

Tuesday 21st July 2020 Leona Hayhoe writes:

Many of Central’s final year undergraduate students have been featured in local and regional media across the UK highlighting their participation in the online choreographic project created to showcase student talent and skills in lieu of the cancelled Ballet Central tour.

Central’s entire student cohort returned home following the closure of Central’s studios in London due to the global coronavirus pandemic. This new choreographic project was created to allow students to think about performing in a new location in consideration of space, dance skills and even costume. Each student was given the challenge of choreographing and performing a solo to a specially created and coronavirus-inspired piece of music by Central’s composer-in-residence Philip Feeney. The final film features all 27 students and excerpts from their dance pieces. A special 3.30 edit was released on Ballet Central’s YouTube channel Centrally Connected Performs to critical acclaim.

“Terrific film.” Emma Kaldhur, Dance Europe.

Artistic Director Christopher Marney, who led the project, explains: “The choreographic project is a unique collaboration and showcase of leading dance talent. Students have interpreted the music through classical ballet, contemporary dance and other dance genres that they learn in their training. Many of them have had the opportunity to speak about their experiences to the media in their home towns and cities – a great experience for future careers in professional dance.”

Media coverage to date includes:

Sophie Pulford online in Hull is This (with the film):


And by BBC Radio Humberside on the Breakfast Show on 23rd June

Listen at 1.26min: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/p08gk2r0

Jake Milston was featured online in the Royal Borough Observer (with the film):


Joe Watson was interviewed on the Breakfast Show on 30th June by BBC Radio Sussex

Listen at 1:54min: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/p08h600p

Erin King was featured in the Woking News & Mail on 6th July:


Ella Slingsby was interviewed on 1st July by BBC Radio Lincolnshire

Listen at 1.37min: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/p08h35xg

Zak Lynn was featured in the Irvine Times on 28th June:


Central’s Graduation Ceremony takes place online

Monday 20th July 2020 Leona Hayhoe writes:

The 2020 class participated in an online ceremony on the last day of term, 17th July, to conclude their BA (Hons) Degree in Professional Dance and Performance.

The celebration of undergraduate achievement - three years of training, personal development, skills and artistry - is typically staged at the conclusion of the Ballet Central Tour in a theatre in Central London. This year’s global pandemic has resulted in UK wide theatre closures meaning that the Graduation Ceremony for Final Year students moved online as part of the Centrally Connected programme implemented by Central for the period of lockdown.

The online event was attended by over 200 people – students and their families, friends of Central, governors and supporters – who all logged on to the live event from homes across the world.

Approaching the graduation from a different perspective, Christopher Marney and his artistic team collated a great range of archive footage, images, films, messages and photos for the audience to see and celebrate the class of 2020 and all their achievements. There was a chance to see film from numerous events and performances from across the three years as a reminder of training and artistic progression.

The students themselves also contributed to the ceremony with their own reflections and memories, some emotional and some amusing with anecdotes from their own experiences and performances.

In his address Mark Osterfield, Executive Director, particularly highlighted Coronation Mass the film created through the Final Year students’ choreographic project to Philip Feeney’s original score. Mark noted how the individual choreography featuring dancers moving from inside to outside spaces is a metaphor for lockdown and the highly unusual circumstances of the last term.

Mark said: “Throughout the last four months I have been impressed by the Final Year students’ dignity and resilience as they coped in the absence of the Ballet Central 2020 tour. The challenges of the past few months, though extreme, will equip students with strength, purpose and vision for a future in professional dance and theatrical careers. We are all enormously proud of each one of you.”

Christopher Marney added: “This group has experienced the highest highs and lowest lows of any student cohort at Central. Their ability to adapt at every stage, to every challenge, is extraordinary; their tenacity, seeking out new ideas and new opportunities is testament to commitment to a dance career. The transition from a performance planned for the stage to online would be hard for any dance professional, let alone those on the cusp of their professional careers, and yet they achieved this through brilliant performances in the Coronation Mass film.”

Christopher continued: “Carole and Christopher Gable’s legacy is demonstrated in every one of these dancers. Their individuality, strength and the techniques, skills and artistry achieved in all dance genres is at the heart of Central’s ethos and the very basis of Christopher Gables’ vision."

Heidi Hall, former Director of Central and now on the Board of Governors, was a special guest of the event who made a moving speech recounting how she and Christopher recruited this student cohort, the first new intake of their combined leadership. “This year group exemplifies all the very best that a Central degree has to offer. They give me such confidence about the future, being pioneers, and future leaders, influencing what the dance industry may be in years to come. I am excited to follow their individual careers and what they achieve as professionals.”

Central’s annual Summer Performance moves online

Friday 17th July 2020 Leona Hayhoe writes:

For the first time Central has hosted its Summer Performance online. This annual celebration of student achievement, skills and artistry moved online in keeping with the Centrally Connected programme of teaching, training and learning that has successfully been implemented while Central’s studios are closed due to the global pandemic.

On Thursday 16 July an audience of students, staff, families and friends were able to appreciate the students’ work created during the past academic year through three filmed choreography projects, one for each year group. Central’s MA Choreography students have contributed to these projects, allowing the undergraduate cohort to benefit from the creative investigation characterised by reflection and research that is at the heart of the MA programme. Natasha Chu introduced We’re Losing the Moon, the work she developed with First Year students and Anjali Mehra introduced the Second Year choreography she developed titled Inside Looking Out. To close the online event, Philip Feeney and Christopher Marney introduced the Third Year film, an innovative and well-received choreography project developed by students in lieu of the cancelled Ballet Central Tour to a new piece of music composed especially by Philip, Coronation Mass.

‘The process of taking choreography from stage to screen was very different from other work and provided new stimulation for the piece created with First Year students. The dancers were all responsive to new ideas; we explored different locations such as filming outside (a different experience from performing on stage) as well as exploring camera angles and the time of day, and we placed a value on hands which are really expressive, especially shown in multiples on film. I have really enjoyed working with the students on this project.’ MA Choreography student, Natasha Chu.

‘The piece was built as if we were able to perform it in the studio or on stage so there was a constant flow of smaller groups performing their own movement and larger groups or soloists dancing my choreography. Together we explored the use of a chair to create a sense of grounding and to also create an anchor in the film frame, playing with texture, costume and quirky movements. They all surpassed my expectations and delivered the choreography with enthusiasm and originality.’ MA Choreography student, Anjali Mehra.

Central hosts virtual Open Day for incoming students

Tuesday 14th July 2020 Leona Hayhoe writes:

On Monday July 13th, incoming students for academic year 2020/21 took part in a variety of online sessions to welcome them into the Central family.

Sessions included an introduction to the degree programme and learning resources, information about student bursaries and support services and a Q+A with staff and current students.

The Foundation & BA (Hons) Degree in Professional Dance and Performance provides thorough and professional preparation for entry into a career in professional dance. Training is provided by internationally renowned teachers who have performed with some of the world's leading dance companies. New students will be among the first to experience training at the Countess of Wessex Studios at Central’s new premises on the South Bank. Learn more about the programme here.

Applications for 2021 entry to the Foundation & BA programme will open in the Autumn term.

Central joins leading ballet schools to delay auditions for September 2021 entry

Monday 13th July 2020 Leona Hayhoe writes:

Acknowledging the impact COVID-19 has had on training, Central has united with some of the UK's leading ballet schools to delay auditions for September 2021 entry until January.

This is to allow prospective students to feel supported as they prepare for the next stage of their dance training.

The full list of schools involved in the initiative includes:

  • Central School of Ballet
  • English National Ballet School
  • Elmhurst Ballet School
  • The Hammond School
  • KS Dance
  • Northern Ballet School
  • Rambert School
  • The Royal Ballet School
  • Royal Conservatoire of Scotland
  • Tring Park School for the Performing Arts

Building and IT Manager Job Opening

Wednesday 8th July 2020 Leona Hayhoe writes:

Central is moving in Autumn 2020 to bespoke new premises on the South Bank London SE1 and is looking to recruit a Building and IT Manager to oversee the move from our existing premises and to manage and maintain the new site.

For further information and an application form, please visit the recruitment page on our website.

Application closing date: Monday 20 July at 12 noon

Interviews: Week commencing Monday 27 July

Senior School Manager Job Opening

Tuesday 7th July 2020 Leona Hayhoe writes:

We are looking to recruit an experienced administrator to oversee the administration and operations of auditions, admissions, registry, timetabling and assessments for Central’s Higher Education degree programmes.

For further information and an application form, please visit the recruitment page on our website.

Application closing date: Monday 20 July at 12 noon

Interviews: Monday 27 July

Summer Term Masterclass Series – new initiative for students under lockdown

Thursday 2nd July 2020 Leona Hayhoe writes:

One of the highlights of the summer term has been the exceptional Masterclass Series created to provide final year undergraduate students with access to some of the most influential and renowned figures in the dance industry.

These virtual Q&A sessions allowed students to listen to advice, insights and the experiences of legendary choreographers, artistic directors and world-leading dancers. Students were able to ask questions and explore thinking as well as seek direction about their future careers while gaining current insight into the theatrical world.

The participating dance industry leaders in Central’s Masterclass Series included:

  • Matthew Bourne OBE: Artistic Director of New Adventures
  • Christopher Hampson: CEO & Artistic Director of Scottish Ballet
  • Cassa Pancho MBE: Founder & Artistic Director of Ballet Black & Patron of Central School of Ballet
  • David Nixon OBE: Choreographer & Artistic Director of Northern Ballet
  • Xander Parish OBE: Principal dancer with the Mariinsky Ballet
  • Lesley Collier CBE & Guy Niblett: Repetiteur, Coach & Former Principals of the Royal Ballet
  • Leanne Cope: West-End & Broadway star of 'An American in Paris'
  • Wayne McGregor CBE: Artistic Director of Studio Wayne McGregor
  • Alina Cojocaru: Lead Principal at English National Ballet
  • Kate Lyons: Dancer with Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures

Ella Slingsby, Final Year student said: “The masterclass Q&A sessions have been extremely insightful. I have gained valuable information which I can take with me in my professional career. Each speaker has inspired and influenced me as an artist. I will never forget this special experience in my final term.”

Christopher Marney, Artistic Director, commented: “Central is committed to introducing our young dancers to industry professionals in order to make essential connections before they reach employment. Even though our studio doors are currently closed, students continue to gain prominent industry expertise while back at home all over the world.”

Ballet Central announces a new online performance by dancers in lockdown to a specially created music composition

Tuesday 23rd June 2020 Leona Hayhoe writes:

Ballet Central has created a unique performance by the company’s dancers who are back at home across the UK and in countries worldwide following the coronavirus pandemic lockdown. Centrally Connected Performs, a new choreographic project realised in a three minute film, is based on a specially created piece of music by composer-in-residence Philip Feeney. With contributions from 27 student dancers and their individual choreography, the resulting film is being released online on the Ballet Central website and on YouTube: Centrally Connected Performs on 23rd June.

Each dance student is in their final year at Central School of Ballet and was given the challenge of choreographing and performing a solo with consideration of the setting, costume and the dance genre, allowing each person to interpret the music based on the skills and artistry gained during their BA (Hons) Professional Dance & Performance degree programme.

Artistic Director Christopher Marney explains: “This year’s Ballet Central tour was unable to proceed due to the Covid-19 pandemic so we created Centrally Connected Performs instead to allow dance students to create their own choreography using ballet or contemporary dance genres to Philip’s innovative music. The result is a unique collaboration, a unifying experience despite not being on tour together or rehearsing as a company at our studios in London.”

Composer-in-residence Philip Feeney explains his inspiration for the unique music that has stimulated the dancers’ performances: “Corona (virus) has the first six letters of the word Coronation so I have co-opted the music from Mozart’s life-enhancing Coronation Mass K.317 (1779) to bring the piece to life. The music takes a journey, starting with the Mozart piece which soon suddenly becomes suspended. The idea is one of growth and discovery, and ultimately defiance, daring to be triumphant in these challenging times.”

The film Centrally Connected Performs is part of Central’s remote learning, teaching and training initiative established to ensure continuity for dance students participating in the school’s BA and MA programmes even though its studios in Herbal Hill in London are currently closed. Centrally Connected is an online programme supporting 117 students in 12 countries and also provides online training for Junior, Prep and Pre-Senior students.

Blackout Tuesday

Tuesday 2nd June 2020 Leona Hayhoe writes:

Today on Blackout Tuesday people have spoken out in solidarity with Black Lives Matter, and all those affected by current events in the United States and increasingly worldwide. At Central, we want to express our support, as well as check in with our students and staff who may be feeling the effects of what is happening. Central is looking at our own practises to make sure BAME staff and students are supported, and will continue the work to ensure that future students and staff experience Central as an organisation that listens, considers, cares and takes action where it can to eradicate racism.

Mark Osterfield, Executive Director

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