The Countess of Wessex will receive a special tribute later this month when a building at the new premises for the Central School of Ballet is named in her honour.
Sophie, who has been patron of the Central School of Ballet and its appeal to move to Paris Garden in Southwark, will visit on 27 February to view the newly-designed ‘The Countess of Wessex Studios’ and meet students, staff and unveil a plaque commemorating her visit.
In a press release announcing the school’s new Executive Director at the end of January, The Countess of Wessex Studios are described as including “seven studios, a fully equipped studio theatre, study and resource centres… a state-of-the-art health suite providing psychology, nutrition, physiotherapy, Pilates and recovery from injury programme.”
Named after Sophie because of the “sincere gratitude” of her “continued interest and support…for the project and its broad objectives for exemplary dance industry training and benefit to the local community,” per the Broadway World UK website, the new school will be fully operational from September 2020, when the first full course schedule will begin; though students will begin training there following a phased move in the summer.
“Our much-anticipated move will allow Central to provide exceptional facilities to match our world-class training for the benefit of our degree level students, for young people with an early passion for dance and the wider community to enjoy for exercise or recreation,” said Heidi Hall, the Central School of Ballet Director, in a statement.
“Bringing everyone together in one place has been a long-held aim and we are forever grateful to The Countess of Wessex for her support and enthusiasm as our Royal Patron.”
When the Central School of Ballet launched its appeal to move to Southwark in 2017, Sophie sent a message of support, saying, “This organisation was founded on the principle that talented young dancers should get the opportunity to pursue dance as a career independent of financial circumstances or background. The new premises will allow the school to work with local communities to ensure this founding principle is followed.”
Founded in 1982, the Central School of Ballet is associated with the Conservatoire for Dance & Drama and focuses on technique and artistic expression. There are currently over 1,200 dancers who use the existing facilities in Clerkenwell.