Centre for Advanced Training - Northern School of Contemporary Dance

Centre for Advanced Training (CAT)

The Centre for Advanced Training (CAT) at Northern School of Contemporary Dance (NSCD) is an extra-curricular dance programme designed to prepare young people for full-time professional dance training at university or specialist conservatoire level.

Interested young people do not need to have previous experience. Instead we are looking for enthusiastic, ambitious and determined young people with an interest in pursuing a career in dance.

Type: Pre-vocational training, recognised by dance HE and FE providers

Ages: For young people aged 13 – 16 on 1st of September (students can turn 17 during the year of study.)

Hours:  2 evening classes mid-week and 3 classes on Saturdays (total 8 hours per week outside of school hours)

Applications for 2024 entry are now live

How to apply


CAT gives students a strong basic grounding in technical and creative skills, preparing them to progress to full-time vocational dance training. It includes tuition in five key areas:

  • Technique
  • Creative dance and choreography
  • Performance
  • Dancers’ health and wellbeing
  • Cultural activities such as theatre and gallery trips, workshops and volunteering opportunities.


Entry is through successful audition. Candidates can directly book a place at one of our Auditions or may be invited to audition from a Taster or Outreach Workshop. No formal qualifications are required.


NSCD employs a wide variety of assessment methods, throughout the course and at specific points in the year. Assessment evidence is collected through:

  • Technique, creative and performance modules, including rehearsal processes
  • Written /verbal projects and evaluations / reflections
  • Individual and small group sessions

Students receive ongoing feedback in practical classes and through the tutorial system.

Achievement is measured against module assessment criteria and in accordance with programme and module learning outcomes. Students must meet the specific attendance requirements for the programme.


Our Centre for Advanced Training students attend a minimum of 8 hours per week outside of school hours, each class is 1.5 hours long:

  • 2 classes in the evening mid-week (ballet and fitness)
  • 3 classes on a Saturday (contemporary technique, creative / choreography and complementary study)

Technique classes develop physical skills in alignment, placement, strength, flexibility and musicality. Our creative workshops, improvisation sessions, contact work and choreography classes give students the chance to work with their peers and to express their own artistic choices through movement. Complementary dance study sessions include body conditioning, body awareness.


Students are taught through a combination of practical and theoretical classes. We encourage students to reflect on their understanding of topics covered through group discussion and feedback sessions. Each student receives a bespoke training plan which sets targets, advises on progression and supports personal tutorials.

Students work with professional choreographers to create pieces to perform at the End of Year Show and in sharings at Riley Theatre, NSCD’s on-site performance venue. Outside term-time students attend intensive weekend sessions, and Easter and Summer workshops, expanding their experience with professional dance and theatre artists and widening their exposure to current practices and artistic thinking.

Students also get the opportunity to attend live theatre performances, seeing some of the UK’s leading student and professional dance companies in action.

"CAT taught me so much. Not only about dance and professional practice but how to develop and grow as a young artist and developing teenager...it allowed me to attend conservatoire auditions with a maturity that made me stand out from others. " CAT alumnus Sam Baxter


If you have any questions about the CAT scheme please contact Paige Kennedy:
0113 219 3025

Visit the National CAT website for detailed information about the CAT scheme including finance and frequently asked questions.