The Central School of Ballet is known across the world as one of the biggest names in schools of dance.

The London-based learning facility is famed for producing some of the finest dancers in the country, and helping them spread their wings and take their career across the globe.

Graduates often end up working at some of the world’s premier dance companies, with a wide range of dancing abilities to take with them.

The school also ensures that their students are all ready for the challenges that life on the road, touring with a dance troupe, can bring.

Every year the third year students of the school embark on a nationwide tour, displaying all the skills and talents they have picked up over the course of their time at the establishment.

It is no different this year, with just a few performances left on their tour before the students can celebrate graduation, including a date at The Hawth in Crawley.

I caught up with Ballet Central’s artistic director, Christopher Marney, to hear about what is in store for their performance this year.

Give our readers an idea of what Ballet Central is.

Ballet Central has been running for 35 years and it’s made up of the final year students at the Central School of Ballet. So these dancers who are on the tour at the moment are on the cusp of their professional careers.

They’re about to launch into the dance world and join companies and musicals worldwide.

This is the first time that we put them out there into the world and into the industry and it’s a programme that’s designed to suit everybody really, people of all ages.

It’s bite-size pieces of contemporary, classical, dance. Lots of it is now given to story-telling which very much appeals to the audience.

It gives the dancers a showcase to spend the last bit of their training as professionals, on the road.

Is it a daunting experience for them to go out on tour?

No, they manage it quite well. They have quite high profile work and choreographers to help design routines.

So they’re opening performances, which is always in March, in London. They don’t get much time to perfect it because they’re on in London when all the critics are in.

Then they go on tour and they hone their craft and get the stage experience and then come back to London in July and have their graduation performance.

That’s when we really see the results of all the brilliant work that’s gone into the tour and how much they’ve actually improved.

What sort of feedback do you get from the students after the tour?

Interestingly, about a year after they’ve graduated, they write or they come back and they say that it was incredible to have that experience before leaving.

What’s asked from them before they go out, into the companies they join, is what they’ve experienced in the last few months. So they all say that it gives them a taster of exactly what it’s like on the road.

Do you feel it gives you, yourself, an advantage when teaching the students, as you know what the experience is like having done it yourself?

Absolutely. I think they’re able to trust me in the sense that I can help them on tour with the different venues we go to, which have different sized stages, and what we have to do to adapt to those.

They know I’ve been through it so they’re always coming to me with questions and asking about not just what they should be doing now but what they should be doing after.

With getting directors involved who all choreograph different types of dance, what’s it like putting them all together in one show?

Interestingly, we had a post-show talk at our last show in Winchester and one of the audience members said it’s like Ballet Tapas. You have Wayne McGregor which is an intense, physically demanding piece, and then you have the Matthew Bourne piece which is fun and you have comedy in it, and then you have something like Black Swan, which Jenna Lee has choreographed for us, which is a dark story to start the show.

It’s good because it appeals to audiences because we have a wide range of genres that we cover.

It’s also testament to the versatility of the dancers as well because we train them in all different types of dance so that they’re the most versatile performer they can be.

How many dancers do you have performing in the show?

We’ve got 36 dancers who will all be on stage in Crawley, when we come on July 3, and they’ve all been with us for three years.

They’re all 18 and 19 years old. By the time they get to Crawley they’ll have two weeks left before graduation and a lot of them are already getting offers to go off into international companies.

What do you like about The Hawth?

We’ve got a really long history with them, I performed there with Ballet Central when I was here in the late 90s, so it goes back probably about 30 years.

It’s such a great stage for us as well, it’s huge.

The crew there and the front of house team always make us feel so welcome. We’re able to do our show in all its glory; with all of the flying pieces and the drapes and costumes.

We don’t have to hold back at all when it comes to the number of dancers we have on stage and the way they can fully commit to the movement and travel with the fact they have this fantastic size stage.

So, let’s finish with one final plug. What makes this the show to go to?

I think the thing that really is a pull for people is that you can come and see well known dance pieces and choreographers, very close to home.

Also, these young people are really excelling in what they do and I think it’s a fantastic reminder that 18 year olds can be great ambassadors for the art form.