The former Royal Ballet dancer Carlos Acosta is opening a state-of-the-art dance centre in one of Woolwich’s historic buildings – promising that it will be a “global sanctuary for dancers from all backgrounds”.

The Acosta Dance Centre will open its doors in the Old Royal Military Academy in September. The building, in the Royal Arsenal, dates back to 1741 and is part of the Woolwich Works cultural hub.

Acosta’s dance foundation is already a resident company at Woolwich Works, and the new centre will offer dance classes, courses, performances, residencies and programmes. A full programme will be announced in September.

Brought up in Cuba, Acosta has performed with the English National Ballet and was a permanent member of the Royal Ballet from 1998 to 2015. The 50-year-old became the artistic director of Birmingham National Ballet in 2020. 

Javier Torres, a former premier dancer with Cuban National Ballet and Northern Ballet, will run the centre as its managing director.

Acosta said: “The Acosta Dance Centre, stands as the epitome of my life’s work, representing a global sanctuary for dancers of all backgrounds and a beacon of inspiration for the world of dance. It is a dream come true, born from my passion to create a place where dance could bring people from all walks of life together, to celebrate joy and creativity through movement.”

Torres said he was “immensely proud” of the project. He added: “The Foundation is delighted to have this exceptional dance centre based in London fulfilling our ambitions and our cause of “creating a dancer in every home”. Our ultimate goal is to unleash the passion for dance within individuals, igniting their passion, nurturing their quality, and fuelling their dance ambitions – and the Centre stands as the perfect avenue to provide just that.”

The arrival of Acosta’s centre provides a boost for Woolwich Works, which cost Greenwich Council £45 million to build but is run by an independent trust. The hub opened in September 2021 but struggled amid the pandemic and criticism of its promotion and programming and made a £1.4 million loss in its first year.

Last year the council had to bail it out with up to £2 million in loans – most of which has now been taken up – while a new director, Nick Williams, is due to take over next month.

Councillors on Greenwich’s overview and scrutiny panel will be discussing Woolwich Works at a meeting tomorrow.