Hi Matt. How are you? You were recently at MOVE IT 2014 hosting the Main Stage. How was that for you?
Hi :) I always enjoy my time at Move It! To be around that many people with a mutual love of dance is infectious. I came away excited to bring Can You Dance? to the regions. The more we can make young people see what is out there the better!
You also met Diversity, who became well known through TV show Britain’s Got Talent. You, yourself, was on ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ which predominately kick started your career. What do you think are the main challenges for dancers trying to get a break?
What I do know is persistence is a must. A lot of dancers give up too easily. When you are a young dancer, the main challenge is to overcome your own lack of confidence. I teach thousands of dancers every year and if they only believed more in themselves, more could be achieved.
You tapped on So You Think You Can Dance – this may be an obvious question but is that your favourite style?
Without a doubt. It is the most enjoyable and expressive form of dance for me. Whenever I am pitching choreographic ideas I am always trying to squeeze a bit in :)
As well as getting a selfie with Diversity, you also got one with Darcey Bussell. Were you nervous interviewing her?
No, I know Darcey well from Strictly and also we are both Patrons of Dance Proms. She is a lovely person and interviewing her was a joy!
Has there been anyone you have met, where you have been star struck?
I don’t get star struck but I do get talent struck. It’s when I meet people who I look up to. Stevie Wonder, Savion Glover, Patrick Swayze.
Lukas McFarlane was also on the MOVE IT Main Stage this year after his 3rd knee surgery. For dancers, having to look after their body is essential as injuries can end careers. The NHS is opening a dance injury clinic in Birmingham following its success in London. What else do you think the industry needs to support dancers?
It’s great that the NHS is getting behind the dancer. My main bugbear in this industry is that dancers can be exploited financially. I have many friends fighting the cause, but it is important that things change for the better!
You have been in 10 West End Shows. Which one would you love to perform in next?
I have been lucky enough to perform in 10 shows – now it’s not which one would I like to perform in, it’s which one would I like to choreograph. I’m open to offers…Ha!
You are about to host Can You Dance? for the second year running. Can you tell me a bit about the convention?
CYD? is what the regions have been craving for a few years. In a nutshell, we are bringing top Choreographers, Dancers, Colleges and Dance Organisations to counties that haven’t been able to experience anything like it before! The day consists of Masterclasses, a Showcase, an Industry Exhibition, and is the perfect opportunity for young dancers to discover what the next step is for them.
Why are you taking it to the Midlands, East Anglia and North?
We decided to go to the above because we felt they all had loads of untapped talent. We did a tour meeting all the schools and the feedback we got was they all needed something in their area. Last year we discovered some extraordinary dancers – we can’t wait to see what 2014 brings!
What’s going to be different about it than last year?
We have lots of new ideas which we will be introducing into the 2014 conventions. We have top London agencies scouting. New features like ‘The Dance Clinic’ where young dancers can ask anything they want to know 1on1 with industry pros. ‘The Technique Zone’ where they can learn new skills in anything from stretching to posture. ‘The Teachers Lounge’ just for the teachers to hear a variety of presentations and current business ideas.
You are also a patron for Dance Proms (an annual event which involves 450 young dancers performing at the Royal Albert Hall). Why did you decide to get involved?
I think for any dancer to have the chance to perform on that stage is invaluable. What they will learn from that evening will set them on the right path.
How did you get into dancing?
My mum persuaded me to go to the new boys street dance class! At 12 years old I wasn’t sure, but before long I was doing 5 nights a week :)
Was it difficult being a male dancer growing up?
Yes and no. Yes because I sometimes got a bit of stick at school and no because the people giving me stick soon realised I was dancing with lots of pretty girls :)
You moved to London when you were 16 to train at Laine Theatre Arts. How was it coming all the way from Scarborough to London at that age?
An adventure. It was a big step, but I was ready for it. Wouldn’t ever change it!
Any piece(s) of advice for students looking for a career in performing arts?
Get your head down and work hard. Sweat in every class. Look for inspiration outside of your bubble.
Luck favours the prepared!!
You must be constantly busy working on different projects – how do you keep your energy levels up and get enough nutrition?
Luckily I love to cook. So when I come home from rehearsals I unwind in front of the stove.
A lot of dancers go through eating disorders which is beginning to be addressed within the media and support groups, however this is mostly for women. Do you think that there is enough support for men with eating disorders?
I would like to think that any man with an eating disorder would be able to find the the support they needed. I know all the dance colleges look out for it and offer help when necessary. The more positive exposure the media can give the better.
What other projects are you working on at the moment?
Last week I was choreographing Kylie on Sport Relief. This week I am in pre-production for a new musical. Over the next month I’m working on an advert.
What has been the main highlight of your career?
Such a difficult question. SYTYCD (So You Think You Can Dance) was incredibly fulfilling and equally challenging, so I will go with that!
Is there anything that you would do differently?
I don’t think so. There are times where I felt I made the wrong decision, but that choice led to something wonderful.
Can You Dance? is taking place in Norwich (4th May), Nottingham (8th June) and Leeds (29th June) this year. For more information and to buy tickets visit www.can-you-dance.co.uk