Centre for Advanced Training
Northern School of Contemporary Dance


In 2004, funding from the Department for Education (previously the Department for Children, Schools & Families’) Music and Dance Scheme enabled Northern School of Contemporary Dance (NSCD) and Northern Ballet to come together and deliver Yorkshire Young Dancers (YYD), the first national dance Centre for Advanced Training (CAT) in the UK.

The scheme has since expanded across England to include nine host organizations recognised for their excellence and commitment to the arts and vocational training.
Centres for Advanced Training (CATs) in Dance identify children with exceptional potential in dance and develop their talent through pioneering programmes, creating and inspiring future generations of world class dancers and choreographers.

Through the national provision of highly specialised training for young people, artists are cultivated at a critical stage in their development in order to prepare them for entry into the world’s leading vocational dance schools and on to successful and rewarding careers in the arts.

Successful applicants are able to access highly specialist dance training in their locality, whilst continuing to live at home and benefiting from a broad and balanced education.
Northern School of Contemporary Dance’s, Centre for Advanced Training delivers non-residential, training programmes for young people aged 13–18 years. The scheme promotes best practice and provides exceptional and innovative tuition to young people, regardless of their personal circumstances. We maintain close links with influential dance companies and artists, creating opportunities for children to work with and build relations with future employers, and to gain an inspiring yet realistic insight into the profession.

The Department for Education’s Music and Dance Scheme currently enables around 2,000 exceptionally talented children to have access to the best specialist music and dance training available alongside a good academic education. The scheme provides funding for children to attend residential schools in music and dance, choir schools or Centres for Advanced Training. The residential dance schools participating in the Music and Dance Scheme are The Royal Ballet School, Tring Park, Elmhurst School for Dance and the Hammond School.

The nine Centres for Advanced Training in Dance are:

  • Dance4 CAT (Nottingham)
  • Dance City CAT (Newcastle)
  • DanceEast CAT (Ipswich)
  • DanceXchange CAT for South Asian and Contemporary Dance (Birmingham)
  • Swindon Dance – Youth Dance Academy (Swindon)
  • The Lowry CAT (Salford, Manchester)
  • The Place CAT – London Contemporary Dance School (London): including London Youth Circus
  • Trinity Laban CAT (Greenwich, London)
  • Northern Ballet & Northern School of Contemporary Dance (Leeds)

This network allows students to work together on national projects and initiatives, meeting peers from across the country. It also provides a support system for staff and management teams, and is a forum for shared policy initiatives and best practice.
For further information on the National Dance CATs visit www.nationaldancecats.co.uk

Northern School of Contemporary Dance and Northern Ballet

As a part-time pre-vocational course, both NSCD and Northern Ballet’s, Centres for Advanced Training work with young people from across the Yorkshire regions that have exceptional potential in dance in order to thoroughly prepare them for professional dance training. The experience and skills provided by the Centre for Advanced Training helps those selected to fully realise their creative and expressive potential, enabling them to make informed choices about their future

Previously known as Yorkshire Young Dancers (YYD) both NSCD and Northern Ballet are funded together to deliver two strands of dance activity in Yorkshire.
– Contemporary Dance, delivered by NSCD and available to 13-17 year olds
– Ballet, delivered by Northern Ballet and available to 10-12 year olds

Both strands have individual groups of students, defined curriculum and are delivered at the Northern School of Contemporary Dance and Northern Ballet sites respectively.
As a Centre for Advanced Training student you’ll attend 2 classes in the evening mid-week and all day on Saturday, this is a total of 5 classes a week. Each class is 1.5 hours long and are designed to ensure you gain a strong grounding in contemporary dance. Classes are designed to help you develop physical skills in alignment, placement, strength, flexibility and musicality, and regular contemporary technique classes are supported by complementary dance study sessions in body conditioning, ballet and Pilates. A range of creative workshops, improvisation, contact work and choreography classes give you the chance to work with other students and to express your own artistic choices through movement.

The Centre for Advanced Training is primarily delivered outside school hours and every effort is made to keep a good balance between academic work and dance training. In certain circumstances it is possible to tailor a more individual programme for those who we think have exceptional potential but may have difficulty travelling to Leeds, please contact us for more information.

Intensive courses

Outside term-time you’ll attend intensive weekend sessions, and Easter and Summer workshops that include working with other dance and theatre artists. This gives you the chance to widen your exposure to current practices and artistic thinking.


As part of YYD you’ll attend live theatre performances to see some of the UK’s leading student and professional dance companies in action. You’ll also have the opportunity to work with professional choreographers to create pieces of repertory to perform at the YYD End of Year Show and at regional youth dance platforms.

Where will it lead?

The scheme will equip you with the necessary skills to progress on to professional vocational dance training. Previous students have trained at dance conservatoires and universities such as Northern School of Contemporary Dance, Trinity Laban, London Contemporary Dance School, Urdang Academy, Bird College and LIPA.
See our Alumni section for some individual student journeys.