Northern Ballet School

Northern Ballet School is a centre of excellence in training for classical ballet and musical theatre, sharing its home with ICTheatre Manchester at The Dancehouse.

NBS was founded under its current name in 1977 by Patricia McDonald but its history dates back much further to 1918 when Madge Atkinson then ballet mistress at the Gaiety Theatre in Manchester founded a school of what she termed ‘natural movement’. NBS moved into the Dancehouse in 1992, with the 430-seater theatre opening in 1994.

It is exactly this mix of the history and the fresh eyes from ICTheatre and through a continuous process of development, that it has reached its present status as an outstanding school training dancers for professional careers in classical ballet and commercial theatre.

It is the place where you can develop yourself as a dance artist and performer at one of the most prestigious training academies in the UK.

Need help with your application?
Our friendly enquiries team are here to answer any questions you may have about our courses or the application process.
Get in touch

What is the Diploma course?


This 3-year Diploma in Professional Dance is a full-time professional course leading to the Trinity College London Diploma in Professional Dance, in addition to the NBS Diploma in Professional Dance.

This course is designed to prepare you for a career in an industry that demands an ever-widening range of dance performance and related skills. This is why all students study a range of dance styles and genres throughout the three years of the course.

What are the benefits of training with NBS?

Everyone at NBS works together to help our students become the performers the theatre dance industry around the world demands – artistically accomplished, technically skilled, industry-savvy and confident.

The professional industry around the world is more demanding than ever before. It expects performers to have a wide variety of dance and other performance skills.

Technique and artistry must be strong, as must bodies as well as the mental resilience to withstand the rigorous demands of professional work. Students must be quick learners capable of fitting into demanding schedules. They must also have the confidence and respect for others necessary to work within groups of highly talented people.

Northern Ballet School is dedicated to giving you all these things so that you leave us with the skillset to find work and develop a rewarding career. NBS graduates have joined classical and modern theatre companies and are now performing on stages all over the world. With an industry showcase at the pinnacle of the 3rd year, success is the keyword.

The NBS corps is supported by a dedicated team of highly qualified and experienced lecturers all with the same laser-like focus – to create dance artists.


Key facts

Practical Performance Experience

3rd-year industry showcase

Central Manchester location

Up to date with current industry trends

Annual musical theatre production

Outstanding Faculty

High contact hours – 30 a week

Two pathways – Jazz & Ballet

The course

NBS’s lecturers have had many years of professional performance experience. They constantly draw on this to prepare students for the physical and mental demands of their chosen careers.

In addition, lecturers have the particular technical expertise and theoretical knowledge. This allows them to give students a deeper insight into the range of dance styles and disciplines that underpins a creative approach to dance.

They also have the physiological expertise to help prepare would-be performers to deal with the physical and mental demands of the dance profession.

Live public performances are an integral part of the training at Northern Ballet School. Our student productions are all staged at a professional level in the amazing surroundings of our 430-seat theatre.

This gives students a hands-on experience of theatrical discipline and performing in front of a public audience while providing their family and friends with an opportunity to see the work.

  • Adonais
  • Ajkun Ballet Theatre – New York
  • Alexander Roy
  • Ballet Creations
  • Ballet Gwent
  • Ballet Imaginaire
  • Ballet Ireland
  • Berlin Oper
  • Berlin Metropole
  • Birmingham Royal Ballet
  • Canterbury Ballet – New Zealand
  • Cinevox Junior Company
  • Coastal City Ballet
  • Detmold
  • Dublin City
  • Dusseldorf
  • Essen
  • European, Gelsenkirchen
  • Haagen
  • Lewis London
  • Linz Oper
  • London City Ballet
  • Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures
  • Munster
  • New English Contemporary Ballet
  • Norwegian National
  • Northern Ballet
  • Peter Shaufuss Ballet
  • Romanska
  • Royal Ballet of Flanders
  • Royal New Zealand Ballet
  • Vienna Festival
  • Wiener and the Yuma Ballet of Texas
  • Beauty and the Beast
  • Brigadoon
  • Buddy
  • Cabaret
  • Calamity Jane
  • Carousel
  • Cassandra
  • Cats
  • Chess
  • Chicago
  • Chitty Chitty
  • Bang Bang
  • Contact
  • Evita
  • Fame
  • Fosse
  • Funny
  • Girl
  • Gigi
  • Gold Diggers
  • Grease
  • Hair
  • Hello Dolly
  • Hot Stuff
  • Joseph and his Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
  • Kes
  • Kiss Me Kate
  • La Cage aux Folles
  • Lion King
  • Love Shack
  • Mary Poppins
  • Movin’ Out
  • My Fair Lady
  • Oklahoma
  • Oliver
  • Peter Pan
  • Phantom of the Opera
  • Pajama Game
  • Saturday Night Fever
  • Some Like It Hot
  • South Pacific
  • Spirit of the Dance
  • Starlight Express
  • The King and I
  • The Snowman
  • The Wedding Singer
  • Wicked
  • West Side Story
Anthony Gifford - ICTheatre Headshot

"NBS was the perfect springboard for my professional career. The technical training and artistic development are provided to students by some of the most knowledgeable and passionate professionals in this industry. As a graduate, I received not only top class training but a plethora of qualifications and opportunities, including teaching examinations, TV appearances and performance experience in their in-house theatre. My three years at Northern Ballet School provided everything I needed and more, and made it possible for me to pursue my career in this amazing industry!"
Anthony Gifford, NBS Graduate 2014

Melissa Gumbs - ICTheatre Headshot

"Northern Ballet School helped me to gain the strength not just physically but mentally to become a professional dancer. I'm very grateful for the training I received at NBS and will never forget my training days, I also made friends for life there too. Since graduating I have been working on cruise liners such as Carnival and Norwegian Cruise Line as a production dancer and aerialist. Northern Ballet School opened the doors to many different lines of work and I accepted my first contract as a professional dancer shortly after graduating."
Melissa Gumbs, NBS Graduate

Liam Scullion - ICTheatre Headshot

"I attended Northern Ballet School with only two years of dance experience behind me. I am now in my third year dancing eight shows a week as a soloist in the Ballet ensemble of the Friedrichstadt-Palast, Europe's show palace with the largest theatre stage in the world. Without the high calibre of teaching, guidance and support I received during my time at NBS, I would never have become the dancer I am today. NBS gave me the tools I needed to get a job and the confidence and mental attitude to keep striving and growing, I will forever be grateful for the years I trained there."
Liam Michael Scullion, NBS Graduate

Any questions?

For questions on how ICTheatre can prepare you for a career in the entertainment industry, or if you’d like more information on how to apply, please contact our Enquiries Team on 01273 840 346 or email


© 2024 Institute for Contemporary Theatre
All Rights Reserved