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Dancer Matthew Morrell: ‘Ballet is about technique, but also finding your presence’

Matthew Morrell. Photo: Justin Slee Matthew Morrell. Photo: Justin Slee

Matthew Morrell trained for three years at Central School of Ballet in London before taking on a postgraduate course at the Academy of Northern Ballet in Leeds, with assistance from a fund set up in memory of dance specialist and longstanding contributor to The Stage Kevin Berry. He talks to Giverny Masso

How did you get into dance?

As little boys do, I used to dance around at home. I started with performing arts, tap dancing and jazz when I was nine. A teacher at my local school in Manchester approached me and said: “Do you want to join ballet class?” I’d never thought much about it before, but those classes led me to fall in love with dance even more. I loved the way you hold yourself in ballet, and the clarity of the movement. It was a whirlwind from there, as I started ballet quite late, when I was 12. I went through the grades and the usual process. I didn’t audition for the vocational schools initially, as I didn’t see myself taking it to a professional level until later on. I was part of English Youth Ballet and, after some encouragement, I ended up at Central School of Ballet for three years.

How did the Kevin Berry fund support you?

I wanted to further my training and really find my technique. That was the one thing I felt I was lacking when I went to auditions. I did a professional graduate programme at Northern and graduated in May this year. The cost of training in London is so high, and then there’s the cost of auditioning, which makes trying to get a job expensive too. The course is very well priced for what it is, however, with five or six days’ training a week. The fund made it possible, and it really worked out, as I got into my goal company at the end: Northern Ballet.

Northern Ballet, the lean company that takes the road less travelled

What have been your highlights with Northern Ballet so far?

We’re going into rehearsals for The Three Musketeers, which is exciting. The last show I did I got to dance one of the sailor boys in the Little Mermaid, which was a really great opportunity.

What is your dream role?

Every male dancer wants to dance Romeo, and I’d love to be a Swan. I’d love to progress further at Northern Ballet and become a soloist here.

What advice would you give to aspiring dancers?

It’s just about believing in yourself. Work as hard as you possibly can while looking after yourself mentally and make sure you give yourself a break when you need it. Ballet is all about technique, but it’s also about finding your presence and being someone that others can work with.

CV: Matthew Morrell

Training: BA in ballet at Central School of Ballet in London (2014-17); Professional Graduate Programme in ballet (2017-18)
First professional role: Sailor in The Little Mermaid with Northern Ballet (2018)

Agent: None

The Three Musketeers opens on October 4

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